A NEW KIND OF SHAKESPEARE

An innovative theater troupe from London brings a fresh spin on the classics to St. Paul

Images by Lara Woolfson/Studio Nouveau

By Aubrey Schield

*Warning: Swearing ahead.

You may think you know Shakespeare. Think again. I recently saw his famous A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed at Camp Bar in downtown St. Paul. The costumes were Renaissance-esque and the language was delightfully flowery and, well, confusing (to be expected from the English playwright). But there was one, major difference in this performance. One of the cast members was absolutely, off-her-rocker intoxicated.

Bartender pouring a pint of Dangerous Man beer at the brewery

The play was put on by (pardon my French) Shit-Faced Shakespeare, an international theater troupe that prides itself on performing the classics with an air of debauchery. The group began six years ago in London, and it just recently brought its one-of-a-kind talents to “the darkest corners and diviest bars” in the United States. More specifically, bars in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston, Austin and Atlanta.

Camp Bar fits the bill for Shit-Faced Shakespeare’s choice of venue, but don’t be scared off. Camp has an airy, casual bar area where mixologists will shake up a mean pre-show cocktail for you. And with daily specials, it’s hard to say no to that.

After imbibing a cocktail or two, head into the separate cabaret lounge, which features multi-level seating, another bar and an intimate stage.

As for the show, I won’t divulge too much information as to which character is under the influence. Then again, it won’t take you too long to figure it out. I was struck by the sheer talent it took to recite Shakespearean lines after indulging in, what I imagine was, several shots of tequila. At one point, the poor girl forgot her lines entirely and declared: “I forgot the line, I’m drunk!” And then proceeded to hiccup loudly.

For only $20, it’s a raucous good time. And who doesn’t love new interpretations of a classic?

A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes the stage at Camp Bar Friday and Saturday evenings at 9:30 p.m. through April 1. Get your tickets here and enjoy the show!

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