Short Attention Span Theater

Short Attention Span Theater

This Friday, Monkey and I were back at the Spiegeltent for another round of Fringe Fest goodness. The attraction, Shotspeare.


Setting the stage

A brilliant concept; Shakespeare, in the round, reimagined as a drinking game. Our five Shotpearian players put on a production of Othello. This was their second show in a row, and I imagine they started half pickled.

Here are the rules of Shotspeare.

  • Rule 1: If an actor messes up a line, there's a brief pause while they run off stage, grab a shot, then return to exactly where they screwed up.
  • Rule 2: If an actor embarks on a speech, there's a musical break to spin the Wheel of Soliloquy which determines what punishment they must endure while completing their speech. If they mess up, invoke rule 1.
  • Rule 3: An audience member picked at random for their strong stomach and outgoing personality is temporarily a member of the crew and is called on to dress up and read lines. If they mess up, rule 1. If they soliloquize, rule 2.
  • Rule 4: Three cards have been given to random members of the audience. At any point they can raise one and all the cast (and audience) must drink.

As an audience, we were well hydrated. Staff wandered up and down the aisles continuously providing drinks.

The set was near nonexistent, two furiously mating plastic sharks and a small sailing ship model recounted the storm that destroys the Turkish fleet. The sound system would erupt with 80s and 90s bangers like Pour Some Sugar on Me to punctuate key moments.

There were three Wheels of Soliloquy invoked. The punishments spun were Stranger Danger (another cast member lurks behind you grabbing your butt and giving you wet willies while you speechify), Beer Pong (the audience flings pingpong balls at your cup while you speak, if one lands in the cup you drink), and Spanking (an audience member and cast member wale away at you with pool noodles).

Aftermath of beer pong

As for the play; the love and lust between Othello and Desdemona was acute until Iago's poisonous tongue and a silly subplot involving a handkerchief undermined Othello's sanity and we end the play in an orgy of death. One of Ginnie and my favorite movies is Kenneth Branagh's lively and lovingly Italian Much Ado About Nothing.

So much of the dialog last night brought this to mind. In fact, Iago delivered a mustache twirling speech from the wrong Shakespeare play. The audience was asked to identify it (win a beer!) and it was from Richard III. But it could just as well have been Don John from Much Ado.

We had a great time and I enjoyed the fusion of audience and performance. We saw the characters, but was also saw the actors behind them, cracking up, drinking up and soldiering on. This made the elements of drama and tragedy acutely involving. Iago's racism (this moor!) had the audience up in arms, and Othello's slow tortuous strangulation of Desdemona brought murmuring and shocked silence. It felt like a throwback to the early, bawdy days when these plays were first unveiled and the audience was right there, not sitting in silence but engaged.