by Patrick Dunn
From the May, 2017 issue
There's a lot riding on any performance of Shakespeare--so much iambic pentameter, so many iconic moments, and so much literary legend to do justice to. So there's an instant novelty factor to Pointless Brewery & Theatre's Shakespeare and Beer series, in which actors down a few pints of beer and then throw that weight of theatrical responsibility straight out the window.
Shakespeare and Beer kicked off last year at Pointless with a popular performance of Much Adrink About Nothing, followed by sold-out runs of A Midsummer Night's Drink and The Lamentable Drink of Romeo and Juliet. This month they're following up with a Macbeth tribute, MacBrew.
Following the template of the popular off-Broadway show Drunk Shakespeare, which debuted in 2014, the series makes a madcap drinking game of Shakespeare's classics. Actors line up a row of pints on the bar before the show and then drink in accordance with a list of rules posted onstage. At last summer's staging of A Midsummer Night's Drink, those included imbibing every time a character fell asleep, woke up, or mistook another character's identity.
Shakespeare and Beer is thoroughly informal; there are no sets and very little costuming, and cast members read their lines from small handheld scrolls. But the show is packed with goofy charm. Watching actors scamper from the stage to the bar and back to drink in between lines is funny enough, but the entertainment value ratchets up steadily as the play proceeds and the booze continues to flow. As inhibitions (and mental faculties) dissolve, actors burst into laughter or shout profanities when they flub their lines, and they occasionally add asides of their own to the Bard's immortal dialogue. Audience members, who tend to drink along with the cast, quickly take an active role in the show, raucously cheering on their inebriated entertainers.
While Shakespeare and Beer isn't technically improv, it's still right in Pointless's improv-heavy wheelhouse. The actors have only one rehearsal, so Shakespeare and Beer is almost entirely chaotic, and all the better for it. It's hard to imagine that the playwright who orchestrated such sublime narrative mayhem as, say, A Midsummer Night's Dream, would have any complaint about such a delightfully unhinged take on his work.
MacBrew is at Pointless Brewery & Theatre Thursday, May 11
[Originally published in May, 2017.]
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