Leicester Square Theatre
Still going strong nine years after their debut, Magnificent Bastard Productions, who rose to fame for their Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare shows, have stepped up their game. On top of their irreverent take on the Bard’s classics, they’re also presenting a repertoire of iconic musical productions, abridged and distorted as the evening goes on.
The format is already quite familiar and faithful to what it says on the box. One of the classically trained cast members spends the four hours leading up to the show slowly getting drunk and then attempts to carry out the part as steadily as possible, with unpredictable comedy effects. Fear not for their health though, as said actor is chosen in turns, never on consecutive days, nor more than once a week.
A mischievous compere, as well as a handful of devices entrusted to the front rowers, ensure that a bouncy tempo and some sort of standards are maintained – either dictating when the drunk requires a top up or providing a bucket for extreme eventualities. The outcome of each evening is quite varied and the responsiveness of the audience, as well as the disposition of the inebriated actor, can play an important role.
For press night, the nominated victim was Oliver Twist themselves, aka Issy Wroe Wright. Described in the bio as “the most talented drinker in the entire company” and “the proud owner of two last names”, she lives up to her reputation and even manages to cause the occasional corpsing from her – usually deadpan – sidekicks. The significant levels of ethanol ingested (half a bottle of gin and some beers) doesn’t seem to have much effect on her vocal prowess, as she headlines an impromptu performance of Singin’ in the Rain.
A lot less faithful and yet more playful than some other Sh!t-Faced Showtime offerings, Oliver with a Twist appears to still be in its embryonic stage with regards to its rehearsed elements. When I first attended one of these events, one of the qualities I was most impressed with was the contrast between the overall light-heartedness and the cast’s undisputed talent which, in this case, didn’t always prevail.
Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, this is a brilliant evening out for those who enjoy a bit of silliness, and don’t mind witnessing a bout of animal cruelty (on a toy dog). With a compact 60-minute running time, it seems a particularly fitting way to kick off a boozy evening and groups of friends are particularly welcome.
Original Author: Charles Dickens
Written and Directed By: Katy Baker
Producer: Magnificent Bastard Productions
Box Office: 020 7734 2222
Booking Link: https://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873596100
Booking Until: 12 April 2019