The show that TimeOut New York calls a “live-action Drunk History” always starts the same way: one cast member downs shots of whiskey
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TimeOut New York calls Drunk Shakespeare a “live-action Drunk History,” and every performance starts the same way: one member of the five-person cast downs at least four shots of whiskey, one right after another. From there, though, it’s impossible to predict what might happen next, or how the performance might end. Shirtlessness is a good bet. Slurred speech also has favorable odds. Yet, no matter what unfolds or how hard the chosen drinker tries to derail the performance, the members of the Drunk Shakespeare Society do their darndest to keep it on track. Of course, who could really blame Hamlet, Macbeth, or Othello for futzing with the play’s ending?
Before the iambic pentameter begins pouring across the bar, the troupe invites one audience member to join the drinker for a shot in order to prove that what’s going down the hatch is in fact booze. This gives a glimpse into the level of audience participation to follow, with people doing everything from singing and clapping to taking part in the drama. A whimsical show by a group of “professional drinkers with a Shakespeare problem,” Drunk Shakespeare was called “an irreverent, bawdy, and good-spirited show, in equal service to liquor and poetry” by Exeunt magazine’s Patrick Maley. The show has also been nominated for Best Unique Theatrical Experience for the 5th Annual Off Broadway Alliance Awards, and was recently designated by The New York Times as a Critics’ Pick.