Tag Archives: Louise Lee

Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet


Leicester Square Theatre

Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

Leicester Square Theatre

Reviewed – 14th July 2022



“They know their business, and they know their audiences, well”


If you saunter along to the Leicester Square Theatre expecting traditional Shakespeare, you are in for a rude—a very rude—surprise. This ain’t your father’s Shakespeare. Oddly enough it is the kind of Shakespeare the Bard himself might enjoy. Enjoy—if he’d gone on a mad pub crawl beforehand, and decided to stop by the theatre to see the latest production of Romeo and Juliet. If well fortified beforehand, he’d enjoy the show—and probably not notice how the cast have changed the ending. And quite a few other things. But then, good times, fuelled with lots of alcohol, are what Sh*t-faced Shakespeare are all about. They know their business, and they know their audiences, well.

Sh*t-faced Shakespeare’s brand of Shakespeare (touring since 2010) “seeks to introduce a new generation of theatregoers to the works of the Bard by reviving the raucous, interactive and vibrant nature of Elizabethan theatre with a very modern twist.” This is one of the most accurate descriptions of a show I’ve ever seen in press materials put out by a company, and they win my admiration for that. It’s great to see such a young crowd turn out for Shakespeare in a comedy club setting. Veterans of the Sh*t-faced approach will know in advance the set up. To summarize: one of the company comes on stage as MC to announce that another member of the company has been chosen to be the drunk for the evening’s performance. Drinking heavily for several hours before the show, this performer will also be expected to drink more every time a bell or gong is struck by a member of audience. While performing Shakespeare.

On this particular evening, it was Juliet’s turn to take one for the team. But there’s not just drinking and slapstick involved here. There’s audience participation that involves acting as well. Short of a County Paris for this performance of Romeo and Juliet, a good sport sporting a “Slayer” tee shirt was selected to play the part of Juliet’s father-approved fiancé. Very appropriate. Out of this formula the cast of Sh*t-faced Shakespeare proceeds to build an entertainment that pays no attention to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. They just focus on the comedy instead. You didn’t know Romeo and Juliet was a comedy?

Seriously, kudos to the cast. David Ellis, Louise Lee, Jessica Brindle, Richard Hughes, Christopher Lane, John Mitton, Lucy Farrar and Stacey Norris are all seasoned soldiers of the Sh*t-faced scene, which includes knowing just how badly to mess up the best known speeches while maintaining eye contact with the audience most of the time. Amazingly enough, no one got hurt as the evening (and the drinking) progressed. These actors are tough, and experienced. It’s also impossible to know whether they have been drinking, which speaks well of their classical training. The programme reassuringly points out that company members are never expected to drink on consecutive nights, or more than four times a month. They consider themselves to be more temperate drinkers than the average West End actor.

In short, if you feel your friends need a bit more culture, and fewer nights at the pub, take them to a Sh*t-faced Shakespeare show. They will have a good time, and might not even notice that they are no longer at their local. And rest assured that the “real” Shakespeare’s reputation will survive, despite the “rough magic” dealt out by Sh*t-faced Shakespeare.


Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Rah Petherbridge


Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

Leicester Square Theatre


Previous Shit-Faced shows at this venue:
Sh!t-Faced Macbeth | ★★★★★ | July 2021
A Pissedmas Carol | ★★★★★ | December 2021


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VAULT Festival



The Vaults

Reviewed – 7th March 2019



“an innovative, disturbing, sharply relevant piece that implicates viewers in the content they watch”


If you’ve ever wondered what being online would look like as a staged performance, then Theatre Témoin are one step ahead – they’ve replicated the internet in this pitch-black comedy devised by the cast (Jonathan Peck, Louise Lee, Esmee Marsh, Yasmine Yagchi) and directed by Ailin Conant. The storylines are constantly disrupted by bite-size, gif-like moments: Peck skips by in a neon green bodysuit. Lee and Marsh wear giant duck-head masks while playing golf. Windows light up at the edges of the stage for sidebar ads. The performers often freeze, rewind, and repeat, as though someone is editing a YouTube video.

While Feed may have brilliantly captured the chaos of the internet, the play is not the total anarchy its aesthetic suggests. This show is highly intentional, skilfully crafted, and very clever about communicating its message, which condemns fake internet activism: the people who vie for followers and fame by generating shallow sympathy (crying emoji) for tragic causes.

The story centres around a news article about a murdered four-year-old Palestinian boy named Nabil. The article goes viral, and its author, Kate, receives an avalanche of new followers. Eager to use her new celebrity for good (or perhaps just high on the attention), Kate becomes an extreme internet activist. Kate’s technology-averse girlfriend Clem watches helplessly as Kate becomes so obsessed with ‘likes’ and ‘views’ that she loses touch with reality.

Meanwhile, beauty vlogger Mia, moved by Kate’s article, posts a heartfelt message about Nabil and the situation in the Middle East. Mia quickly becomes the voice of justice for Nabil, #FeelForNabil. To continue to raise awareness for the plight of Palestinians (or perhaps to keep her spot in the limelight), Mia resorts to increasingly ‘shocking’ stunts for her vlog posts, including cutting her arm and painting her face with blood. Mia and Kate’s stories switch back and forth, sometimes so fast it feels like toggling between tabs.

On set, long blue drain hoses are used to represent ethernet cables. They wrap around the space, and eventually around the characters themselves. At the beginning, there’s a scene involving an argument about foie gras vs. the vegan faux gras. And at the end, when Kate has one of the hoses in her mouth, it’s a shrewd visual metaphor that perhaps we are all overfed content that advertisers (or more ominous sources) use to extract money and data from us.

As both Kate and Mia spiral out of control, the play escalates to a frenetic pace, becoming more and more outrageous and gory in its bid to keep our attention. The ads increase too, triggered by the characters’ words: ‘Pain’ sets off a commercial for Nurofen. ‘Talk’ gives us an ad for ‘TalkTalk’ – an ingenious mimicry of the algorithm for targeted ads.

Feed is an innovative, disturbing, sharply relevant piece that implicates viewers in the content they watch. Theatre Témoin is warning us all to wake up and smell the foie gras.


Reviewed by Addison Waite

Photography courtesy  Theatre Témoin


Vault Festival 2019


Part of VAULT Festival 2019




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