Gary’s Ratings for Drunk Shakespeare is a solid 4.4/5.
Main Cast: Adam Ortega, Alyssa Poon, Chris Trindade, Christian Roberts, Danielle Cohn, Justin Minchow, Michele Danna, Nate Betancourt, Preston Mulligan, Sarah Goldstein
Running Dates: Opening November 01, 2014, Currently Running
Theater Location: The Gallery at Green Fig, 570 10th Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY
Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Tickets: Prices from $55–$89. Buy tickets here.
The Gary Score
My high score for Drunk Shakespeare comes from a place of appreciation for the burlesque. Granted, this show doesn’t feature musical numbers – at least not regularly – but it has that unhinged feel that regular theater can’t provide.
Besides, I’ve seen classical Shakespeare pieces done to death. This take on the Bard is something refreshing and relatively original. I believe those qualities should always be rewarded.
What Is Drunk Shakespeare?
Drunk Shakespeare is a twist on Shakespeare that you’ve likely never seen before. The show revolves around The Drunk Shakespeare Society. This is a group of actors who share a love toward the Bard as well as a glass or two – or several – of a good drink.
At the start of the show, one of the actors will down five shots of their favorite booze and start performing. But the actor doesn’t perform just anything – they do a leading role from a Shakespeare play. Or, at least attempt to, depending on their alcohol tolerance.
Describing this premise alone doesn’t do Drunk Shakespeare justice though. The show is filled with innuendos, adult humor, pop culture throwbacks, and most importantly, audience participation. There are improvised sections and various tasks given to the crew by the show lead.
In addition to all this, the show features a king or queen of the night. This is an audience member who sits on a throne and occasionally gives orders to the cast members.
Of course, there are drinks galore. Each Drunk Shakespeare production offers various beverages and snacks. These are completely optional – you could simply purchase a ticket and enjoy the show without the consumables. The question is, why would you?
How Complex Is the Show?
This show isn’t overly complex. In fact, it invites the audience to follow and interact in certain parts, which would be impossible if the dialogue went over everybody’s heads. There’s still plenty of Shakespeare in Drunk Shakespeare, and the Bard’s work isn’t always easy reading.
The point of the show isn’t so much in the script as much as it is in the performance and the entire atmosphere. Drunk Shakespeare is intended for mature audiences who’ll undoubtedly understand everything that’s going on.
The cast does a terrific job of pointing the audience in the right direction. Even if the dialogue gets a bit complicated, no audience member should be left stranded.
Drunk Shakespeare NYC
Drunk Shakespeare has had a very successful run on the off-Broadway scene in New York. The run is so successful, it’s still going on. The show has regular performances at the Gallery at Green Fig.
Drunk Shakespeare Chicago
The Chicago production of Drunk Shakespeare was met with excellent reviews. As is the case in New York, the show had an open run in Chicago at the Lion Theatre.
Drunk Shakespeare DC
Based on critic and audience reactions, Drunk Shakespeare in DC was a resounding success. It was performed at the Sage Theater.
Honestly, I couldn’t think of a show similar to what Drunk Shakespeare does. The entire idea of presenting a show while intoxicated isn’t something new, but this show makes it its own. It’s no wonder that Drunk Shakespeare grew into a franchise.
If I could compare it to something equally as fun, it would be a TV show: “Drunk History” from Comedy Central. This show shares several similarities with Drunk Shakespeare. Firstly, there’s the obvious historical context, although each story is given as a lesson. But the lessons are played out in a manner very similar to a Shakespeare play.
In fact, there’s an entire episode in season 4 dedicated to the Bard. While the humor isn’t as charged as in Drunk Shakespeare, it’s still hilarious. If you go to see Drunk Shakespeare and want to take a piece of its atmosphere home, binging “Drunk History” might be just what you need.
A Review of the Reviews
You might not expect this kind of show to garner praise both from critics and audiences, but that’s precisely what happened with Drunk Shakespeare.
Audience reviews on the DC-based site Fever are more than positive, with some reviewers calling the show the best theater experience of their lives. Similarly, ShowScore shows a respectable 91% positive reviews.
Broadway Box, a site that gathers audience reviews for Broadway and off-Broadway productions exclusively, is no different, with audience members raving about the show’s interactivity and devil-may-care approach to humor.
You might say that there’s no such thing as a perfect play. But as far as semi-improvised comedies fueled by alcohol go, Drunk Shakespeare comes pretty close.
Actors and Characters
Drunk Shakespeare doesn’t have traditional casting. Instead, one of the actors from the rotating crew of The Drunk Shakespeare Society will have shots of liquor and try their best to interpret a role from any play by Shakespeare.
Is It Good for Families and Kids?
As you might suspect with a show that involves lots of alcohol, the minimum admittance age for Drunk Shakespeare is 21. This makes the show unfit for children by default.
Even if alcohol use wasn’t involved, the type of humor that occasionally takes place in the show can be a bit too edgy for kids. Those looking for a fun family time might be better off seeing something else.
When I saw Drunk Shakespeare, I remember thinking how it’s a shame it isn’t suitable for kids. With some of its edge dulled, this show could be a great way to introduce children to the giant of theater. Unfortunately, the educational aspect, as well as the laughs, will have to stay reserved for audience members of an appropriate age.
If you’re wondering if Drunk Shakespeare is good to see in a group of older family members or friends, the answer is a resounding yes. Plays like this are best experienced in a crowd with some people you know well.
Get Your Tickets for Drunk Shakespeare
Whether you’re a theater lover or simply enjoy a great night out, seeing Drunk Shakespeare will be more than worth the price of admittance. If you always wanted more than a passive theater experience, you’ll be right at home with this show. And if you really want to take the center spot on the stage, you may make your bid for the king or queen spot.
Since it seems like the run of Drunk Shakespeare won’t end anytime soon, there may be plenty of time to get tickets for the show, barring another pandemic lockdown. But keep in mind that it will play out differently every time. The sooner you get your first Drunk Shakespeare experience, the sooner you’ll be able to revisit it.
If I were you, I wouldn’t wait another day to see this gem of fourth-wall-breaking theater. Grab your tickets now using this link, and don’t allow yourself to miss out on 90 minutes of pure Shakespearean fun.