Yes, ShakesBEER is actually the name of a theater project: It’s Shakespeare-meets-pub-crawl. Then there’s Shotspeare: Shakespeare-meets-drinking-game. And there’s Drunk Shakespeare (the actors get drunk as they perform), a New York version of Scotland’s S—faced Shakespeare. They’re putting the bar back in Bard. (Sorry.)
Post theater columnist Michael Riedel, based on two reviews of the pre-Broadway run in Cambridge, Mass., pronounced the show “dead in the water” and said of the critics that “if you’re going to review the baby in the cradle, strangle it.” One of those critics, Jeremy Gerard, reports on the brouhaha and Weinstein’s predictable response.
“Festival participants included Palestinian students from the West Bank, a group of 12th-graders from Tromsø, Norway, actors from the UK, and trainers from Germany, Egypt and Romania who gave workshops in dance, drama, comedy and performance art. The final group performance included a movement piece reflecting the dynamics of street protest, a sketch about Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, Commedia dell’Arte scenes and monologues about self-image and harassment.”
“In the previous 15 minutes, [the legendary London stage producer] has related one story about a fellow theatre producer (unprintable), two stories about a theatre owner (possibly libellous), a yarn about an encounter with the crown prince of Japan (probable diplomatic incident) and a saga that swerves from the crisis in Gaza to David Cameron’s taste in suits.”
Charles McNulty: “Suicide is an intensely private act that provokes an immense public reaction. It bequeaths to those left behind fundamental questions about the value of existence, the fragility of our social bonds and the hidden life of even those closest to us. For all of these reasons, suicide has been a central concern of drama from its beginnings in 5th century B.C. Athens. What can we learn from the way playwrights have dealt with the complex subject of self-slaughter?”
“A one-man play performed by an illusionist amid a sea of cardboard boxes has won the most coveted theatre prize at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Performance artist Geoff Sobelle’s show [The Object Lesson] will be heading from a tiny room at Summerhall arts centre to the Brooklyn Academy of Music after scooping the prestigious Carol Tambor Award.”
“The producers have been careful, not to say monomaniacal, about replicating the experience they gave audiences in the opening months. … My return visit also confirmed how significant … young fans remain to the show’s success. The audience at the evening performance I attended teemed with bopping tweens and their families.”
Fergus Linehan “pointed out that the EIF has the biggest theatre audience in the world on its doorstep, but struggles to exploit it. … ‘Why do we struggle to deliver an audience that looks like even a cross section of the people in this room, or even more, a cross section of people walking down the street?’”
“We set out to create and establish roles to try and mitigate power conflicts. This worked for a short while, but we found that although we had divided ourselves into the traditional roles of Playwright, Set Designer, Sound Designer, Teaching Artist, Director, Stage Manager, and Education Director, those titles meant different things to each of us. Our roles became accusations.”
Charles McNulty: “Liam Neeson doesn’t have the Shakespearean chops but he has that combination of paternal fury and tenderness that is just what the role requires. … Al Pacino would either be the greatest Lear in recent memory or the most embarrassing. Actually, he could very well be both at the same time. … Nathan Lane is hardly just a comic actor.” (We haven’t even told you the real curveball.)
“Putting a new spin on crowdsourcing and the very risky business of producing Broadway shows, investors Howard and Janet Kagan have launched a new online investment platform invest.maxolev.com, offering equity in Broadway productions.” Their first venture,
Lyn Gardner: “It’s always good to talk, and maybe these shows and others are a sign that we are getting better about being honest with each other about our own frailties. When I’ve discussed these shows with other people, several have opened up their own mental-health issues. That can only be good. It’s as if these shows give us permission to talk about the taboo, let down our guard.”
“Patrick Bateman has been haunting the theater director Rupert Goold lately. And it’s not just the ax, chain saw, and nail gun that Bateman uses on flashy A-listers … No, Mr. Goold is preoccupied with getting Bateman right for the Off Broadway run of his musical adaptation of American Psycho this winter after suffering mixed reviews during the world premiere at [London's] Almeida Theatre.”
“Theme park shows have a reputation like cotton candy’s: They’re sweet and they go down easy, but they’re not much to write home about. Part of that comes from how much they stick to a formula. Run times rarely exceed 30 minutes, the faster to get people dried off or cooled down and back to the rides. … But streamlined doesn’t mean substandard. Though the shows’ content may be lighthearted, the talent is often Broadway caliber.”
“So often in my conversations with artistic directors I’m dismayed by their willingness to accept the status quo. If mindless musicals are what draws in the crowds, then mindless musical it will be … Box office becomes confused with artistic merit, making it easier to let fiscal expediency dictate taste.” But Charles McNulty has found one house that’s getting it right.
“Common sense might suggest that artists well ensconced in their careers would look askance at FringeNYC’s no-frills, DIY ethic … But to Ms. Prince and other longtime grown-ups, the chance to present a show cheaply in New York is a potent lure, even if each production has only 15 minutes to put up its set and 15 minutes to strike it afterward.”