Tag Archives: Beth-Louise Priestley

Sh!t-faced Shakespeare® Much Ado About Nothing.

Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing


Leicester Square Theatre



 Sh!t-faced Shakespeare® Much Ado About Nothing.

“It is utterly chaotic, but that’s the glory of it”


A staple of the Edinburgh fringe, the premise of Sh!t-faced Shakespeare is simple: it’s a traditional Shakespeare performance (with liberties taken for comic purposes, of course) where one performer is, for want of a better word, sh*t-faced. That performer rotates every night, as do the cast, and the roles. No two performances will ever be the same…

Don’t go to this if you’re expecting a genuine production of Much Ado, it’s more like a crazed improvised performance, with chunks of Shakespeare loosely hanging it together.

Luckily, the sober performers are also packing in the gags and the quick improv. There is a risk with the concept that when the drunk performer isn’t on stage, the audience is left merely watching a Shakespeare play, and maybe not a great performance of it. However, this is not the case with this troupe – a running bit about Benedick having chlamydia, quick one-liners about choir boys and priests, dragging an audience member into the fray – this cast (and director Stacey Norris) know what they’re doing and do it well.

It is utterly chaotic, but that’s the glory of it. When things go wrong (and they do, often) it is part of the fun. Mics cut out, parts of the set (designed by Nicola Jones) are thrown from the stage, costumes fall apart, it all makes it more ridiculous, and more joyous.

A crucial role is played by the compare, for us it was Beth-Louise Priestley, who is on hand to keep the show ticking over, much to the horror of the drunk performer (Flora Sowerby) who seems mostly to want to monologue about the beauty of beards. Priestley runs around, mopping up spills, gathering Sowerby back from the audience, where she’s escaped, and blowing an air horn when things get too messy. There are times when this isn’t enough, and the chaos takes over, people talking over one another and all aiming to grab the spotlight. Most of the time though, it works well. Very well.

Sowerby shines as a drunk Beatrice, but the rest of the cast are also very strong. Holly Durkin and Matthew Seager make a very sweet Hero and Claudio, and Chris Lane is a deliciously evil Don John. John Mitton is a particularly quick Benedick, who manages to keep character, even while delivering witty one-liners. Stacey Norris delights as Leonata, bringing a real joy and feminist flavour to a usually boring part.

7pm is quite early for this sort of show, it feels like it could’ve been in a later slot, but no one seems to mind and the roars from the audience demonstrate that even on a Wednesday at 7pm, people are very up for this.


Reviewed on 12th July 2023

by Auriol Reddaway

Photography by AB Photography


Leicester Sqaure Theatre


Previously reviewed at this venue:


Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet | ★★★★ | July 2022
A Pissedmas Carol | ★★★★★ | December 2021
Sh!t-Faced Macbeth | ★★★★★ | July 2021


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Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: Hamlet

Leicester Square Theatre

Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: Hamlet

Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: Hamlet

Leicester Square Theatre

Reviewed – 21st June 2019



“Whilst it didn’t have my sides splitting, it’s still a fun way to spend an evening”


The idea is this: you take five classically trained actors, spend weeks and weeks rehearsing a Shakespeare play, then, come showtime, for every performance one cast member gets ten out of ten drunk- or at least a solid seven and a half- and hilarity ensues.

Our drunk for the evening is David Ellis, playing Hamlet, and I can confirm he was definitely drunk – a point of contention in previous reviews. The script often seems to get in the way of his good time and he gets in to a rhythm of reciting his very wordy monologues double-time so he can get to the fun bit: licking his co-actors and throwing stuff at the audience.

The compere, Beth-Louise Priestley, spends much of the show ushering Ellis on and off stage, ensuring he’s polite to the rest of the cast and doesn’t throw anything too heavy at the audience (he does accidentally lob a book but I’ve been assured no audience members were hurt during this production). She is clearly genuinely enthused but I suppose owing to the fact that Sh!t-Faced has been running as long as it has, some of her lines feel a little over-rehearsed and sometimes she struggles to inject the necessary spontaneity in to her delivery.

Magnificent Bastard Productions has been running Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare now for a good few years. I imagine they kept coming up against the fact that the success or failure of the night is very much dependent on whether the drunk is a funny drunk. Otherwise you’ve got an inexplicably abridged Shakespeare play with one person who can’t remember their lines and just wants to take a nap. Not super fun. So, their solution is to make the whole script a bit silly; give the sober actors a chance to crack a joke or two. Unfortunately, this means there’s much less room for genuine improv and you can’t tell if the drunkard is cracking their own joke or reciting the script. You would think that the point of it being Shakespeare is that it’s traditionally very serious and stuffy, and adding a drunk person gives a good dose of giddy unpredictability. But if the script is already farcical, it comes off a bit like a touring school production – a way for the kids to get excited about an old play.

It feels a little formulaic but I suppose that’s to be expected when what started as a raucous fringe production moves to a West End theatre. That said, the cast still seem to be having a great time and they are obviously genuinely fond of each other which makes all the difference with improv.

Whilst it didn’t have my sides splitting, it’s still a fun way to spend an evening. Make sure you’ve got a drink in hand, this is not ideal for a sober night out.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Rah Petherbridge


Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: Hamlet

Leicester Square Theatre until 14th September


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Murder, She Didn’t Write | ★★★ | February 2018
Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice | ★★★★ | April 2018
Sh!t-faced Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet | ★★★★ | June 2018
Murder She Didn’t Write | ★★★★ | September 2018
Sh!t-faced Showtime: Oliver With a Twist! | ★★★ | September 2018
Stick Man | ★★★½ | October 2018
Sh!t-Faced Showtime: Oliver With A Twist | ★★ | March 2019
Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming Of The Shrew | ★★★★★ | April 2019


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