Arts & Culture

Went There: Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare

The Safety Dagger is a Metaphor



Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare performs Romeo and Juliet every Friday and Saturday night at the Rockwell Theatre in Davis Square. The show is an adapted version of Romeo and Juliet condensed into one hour. In this show, several characters are have been cut, the character Mercutio is female, and the jokes have been modernized.

This adaptation doesn’t take itself too seriously, as the dramatic scenes are accompanied by classical interpretations of pop songs, but the actors still use proper swords in the fight scenes, the men wear tights, and the actors certainly know their old English. One of the actors in each Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare show is drunk.

Source: Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare

In this case it was Juliet, a tall, blonde woman who at first seems totally normal amongst the playfulness of the other actors. There is a stage master of sorts in golden leggings and sparkly Converse who is in charge of making sure the play continues and that the actors remain safe. “Safety dagger!” he yells at one point, taking Juliet’s dagger and replacing it with a blow up flamingo. Throughout the show Juliet drinks three more beers, often working her way through a scene with beer in hand, and slowly her acting starts to crack.

Source: Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare

During the balcony scene, Juliet looks wistfully over our heads into the distance, and then says, “Oh, right,” and blurts out her lines all at once. When she is sick in bed and the nanny comes to check on her, Juliet giggles and says, “Liz, you’re so cute in those glasses,” then glances at the audience. “That’s her real name. Liz.”

The show is hilarious on its own, but the fun is in its erratic path to the familiar ending, the unpredictability of Juliet’s demise. Towards the end of the play the stage master is shuffling her on stage for her scenes, tugging her offstage when she won’t exit. The safety dagger for the final scene, when Juliet stabs herself, is a wooden boat.

Source: Sh!t-Faced Shakepeare

Juliet riffs on and on about crossing the river Styx in this boat, to get to the underworld, and all the actors play onto this, commenting on the serendipity of such a perfect metaphor masquerading as a dagger.

At the end of the play, I’m giddy from all the laughter and the tension. I’m also curious. What is the play like when Romeo is drunk? Or Mercutio? What is Juliet’s sober performance? The play is smudged, slightly out of focus. I’ll have to go back to get a better view.

(Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare also performs Much Ado About Nothing in the Seaport District.)

Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare

The Rockwell
Friday and Saturday nights
$25 tickets

The Rockwell
255 Elm Street
Somerville, MA





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