Thursday, August 13, 2015

Boozy Bard presents: Shakespeare Raw

As You Like It + beer + plenty of innuendo

What happens when you take a troupe of theatrical Milwaukeeans and feed them lines of Shakespeare and plenty of alcohol? Boozy Bard Productions. The company has been around since April 2014, and it's exactly what it sounds like: Shakespeare (The Bard) and booze. The actors drink, the audience drinks, and there's even a drinking game that's all about 1590s innuendo (the "length of his sword," sure). On top of the booze, the actors draw their characters out of a hat moments before showtime, adding to the raw feel. Then they don costumes, read from the script, and just make it work.

Before the show started, we learned that back in Shakespeare's day the actors would get the script mere days before the show. They would rehearse any highly choreographed scenes in the light of day (sword fights etc.), then move to the local bar at night to learn their lines by lamplight. So the experience of The Bard and booze truly does date back to Shakespeare's day. Who knew this was the authentic way?!

The company performs a different play by Billy Shakes every month at the cozy Best Place at the Pabst Brewery. Shows run three weekday nights at 7:00 PM and tickets are $10 ($5 for those in themed costumes; themes vary from show to show). The entire thing was a hoot and not your grandma's Shakespeare. The actors take liberties with the script, from performing in a Brooklyn accent to colorful cursing, and sport wacky costumes (lots of shirtless and pantless dudes). But if you have a sense of humor and can handle it — and the sometimes-annoying, rowdy crowd — this is one Shakespeare company not to miss. 

The Boozy Bard's Merchant of Venice will play at the Best Place on September 14th, 15th, and 16th. One tip: If you're not familiar with a particular play, I suggest finding a movie version to watch before, or at least brushing up with an online summary. I wasn't familiar with As You Like It, and though I laughed plenty and followed the basic plot, I really didn't know the details of what what going on or why... And these actors' first concern isn't annunciating — it's entertaining. So do your homework for an even more enjoyable experience. 

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