Theater Review: Bare Theatre Breaks Out Stronger Stuff for Its Second Round of Drunken Shakespeare in Local Taverns | Arts
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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Theater Review: Bare Theatre Breaks Out Stronger Stuff for Its Second Round of Drunken Shakespeare in Local Taverns

Posted by on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 2:26 PM

click to enlarge Laura Parker, Camille Watson, and Kirsten Ehlert in ShakesBEER 2.0 at Zog's in Chapel Hill - PHOTO COURTESY OF BARE THEATRE
  • photo courtesy of Bare Theatre
  • Laura Parker, Camille Watson, and Kirsten Ehlert in ShakesBEER 2.0 at Zog's in Chapel Hill
ShakesBEER 2.0: The Bard Strikes Back
★★★½
Through Friday, Dec. 22
Various locations, Triangle-wide


Now we know: Macbeth’s porter was off by one in his famous list. Drunkenness, the topic of his comic monologue in the Scottish Play’s second act, provokes five things, not four: nose-painting, sleep, urine, lechery—and merriment. The proof is abundant in Bare Theatre’s ShakesBeer 2.0, a rewarding forty-five-minute revue of Shakespearean sots, currently in the midst of a month-long crawl through nine (count ‘em!) regional drinking establishments. (We saw it at Zog's in Chapel Hill.)

With considerable poise and boozy bonhomie, four new actors, led by director Dustin Britt, have clearly learned from the show’s first iteration, in which the crew was at odds with boorish barflies on some nights. Or maybe Camille Watson, Kirsten Ehlert, Laura Parker, and George Labusohr have just spent a lot more time in bars. Either way, this talented quartet seemed very much at home in louche surroundings and totally on top of occasional zingers from the sodden masses.

After an opening toast to "our trusted cups," Watson turned in a snickering, surefooted take on Macbeth’s porter. In other highlights, the addled foursome gave Henry IV, Part 2 the Tennessee Williams treatment—call it Cat on a Hot British Alehouse—with a languid Southern matron, Mistress Quickly (Labusohr) fanning away the vapors caused by Big Daddy Falstaff (Watson).

Cultural cross-wiring was the order of the evening. A Twelfth Night sequence fizzled into incomprehensibility after a strong start from Parker and Labusohr’s surfer dudes. Parker and Watson convincingly set Romeo and Juliet’s opening brawl in an episode of The Jersey Shore, but unclear characterization reduced the comic mileage of the Othello sketch.

Still, a crew you should really go out and have a beer with quickly overcame such momentary stumbles. ShakesBeer’s second incarnation clearly calls for another round.

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