I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking

Published: 7 November 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet

“I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking,” said Othello. Shakespeare’s plays are full of references to drink and drunkenness, none more famous than that discussion between the Porter and Lennox in Macbeth act 2 scene 3.

So, put drink and Shakespeare together and what do you get? Shit-Faced Shakespeare, of course!

That’s the name of a theatre company which is bringing Romeo and Juliet to the Tyne Theatre and Opera House on 24 November, and they get their name from their way of working: they’re a group of classically trained actors and, four hours before the show starts, one of them is chosen to start drinking and to continue until the curtain goes up—and then go on stage to play their part as well as they can.

What is the point of this? What they says is, “the remaining sober cast are forced to fight their way through the show while incorporating, rectifying, justifying and generally improvising round their inebriated cast mate. What could possibly go right?

“With foul language, partial nudity, simulated acts of a sexual nature, attempted singing, full contact wrestling, full nudity, actual acts of a sexual nature and involuntary ‘tongue stuff’, Shakespeare plays are considered classical entertainment… All we’re doing is adding a splash of booze to the mix.”

The BTG gave their 2018 Edfringe production of Hamlet four stars.

Shit-Faced Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet begins at the Tyne Theatre at 8:00 on Wednesday 24 November and tickets are priced £20.50 (plus booking fees when booking online or over the booking hotline).