When I agreed to review this show, I thought that I would be seeing improvisers taking the premises of Shakespeare plays and then Mad-Lib style scene creation would happen… but wow and hoo-boy I didn’t see what I saw coming.
I arrived at The Havana early so I got a drink and a snack and hung out. As people started lining up for the show there was one guy who was incredibly boisterous and extra huggy with the people around him. Homeboy was drunk. A friend of mine was doing the doors for the show (we do a podcast together) and I mentioned that he was super drunk and she said… “Oh, have you not seen the show before? He is one of the improvisers, he is supposed to be drunk.” And there we have it good gentles a segue into a bonny tale.
As I entered the black box theatre at The Havana a guitarist was playing classical folk music to set the mood. Actors were milling about in peasant shirts. Then the show started. Nikolai Witschl came on stage and introduced the show, which is two acts, one is a rehearsed piece from a Shakespearean play in which our drunk improviser is the main character and must remember while very drunk their lines including a monologue and the second is an improvised long form scene in the style of Shakespeare based on suggestions from the audience.
The first act was from All’s Well That Ends Well, following his father’s death, Bertram, the young Count of Rossillion, leaves home to attend the court of the ailing King of France, along with his friend Parolles. Helena, the Countess’s ward, is in love with Bertram, and reveals her affection to the Countess, who is sympathetic. The scene is from a trial.
Brad the Drunk (who was the inebriated improviser) was able successfully deliver his monologue and follow along with the scene but I am not sure that Shakespeare wrote in all of the extra swearing and long pauses into the scene. By the end of the scene, everyone in the audience was near tears because of the hilarity of the situation. I was so amazed at the performance that a wow slipped out of my mouth and without skipping a beat Brad The Drunk said, “You are correct, wow”.
The next act was the improvised scene, in which a tavern owner who was the former King of England works tirelessly to protect his daughter from finding out her royal line but also from having her meet and fall in love… which is exactly what happened, with a member of the royal court who is an adventurer. The adventurer and his sister met the local drunk who was named Bob. There was also a plot to capture the Former King’s daughter and to sell back to her father for a price. All of this is 100% improvised. During this, Brad the Drunk was a ship’s rail and also as a parrot who would state the obvious. The conclusion of the story was the adventurer marrying the daughter of the Former King and Bob the Drunk marrying the adventurer’s sister.
Afterwards, I caught up with Brad the Drunk, he was all smile and very happy. His drink of choice was 375 ML of Bombay Sapphire and OJ between the hours 3pm and 10pm. Which, hopefully, was in a bottle that wasn’t recently recalled for being 77% alcohol.
It was a blast and something I think everyone will enjoy. You can catch the next installment of Shakespeare After Dark – The Bard, Improvised and Twisted, Saturday May 27th at The Havana.