There is no question that New York is full of surprises, but this is one it would be hard to imagine all on one’s own.
Known as “Drunk Shakespeare,” the premise is that one actor begins his evening with five shots of whiskey, and then, with presumably no time to sober up, begins to perform in a real Shakespearean play.
I imagine that for purists this might smack of sacrilege, but for the rest of us with senses of humor, this could turn out to be a pretty fun evening. Among the other strange elements patrons can expect are a hidden library on the 4th floor of a building on 43rd and 8th Avenue which has more than 15,000 books; a mysterious bartender who serves his drinks through and opening in a 10-foot high bookcase which is made completely of black books; one-hundred valuable novels buried for all time in an amber fluid in front of a king’s throne; and more…
The troupe of actors bringing this fascinating premise to life is known as the “Drunk Shakespeare Society.” They perform nightly at the Roy Arias Stages in Midtown Manhattan, a performance space made to look very much like a library. When the cocktails have been served out the actual “Drunk Shakespeare” performance begins, in close proximity to the audience. A somewhat truncated version of Macbeth ensues. Each evening a different actor, playing a different role, is required to become inebriated and then perform his lines as convincingly as possible.
Due to the drinking atmosphere, the audience is less inhibited, and easily become part of the action. There are two audience members who get special attention, as they have spent extra for the privilege of sitting on royal thrones. These special patrons have purchased the rights to champagne, caviar, and the right to tell the drinker to drink some more, why don’t you?
The show opened in November, 2014, and does not show signs of abating. Performances take place every night of the week but Tuesday. Friday nights have two shows, and Saturday evenings there are three to choose from.