Drunk Shakespeare review: If laughter is the food of love, play on

Saturday night, I walked off the cold Chicago streets into the hidden Lion Theatre and felt as though I was transported back in time. Straight through the front door puts you into a speakeasy-esque bar where you check in and join the The Drunk Shakespeare Society. From there, you walk through the thick, red curtain which brings you into the theater, which is adorned with books and wooden bench seating. At the end of the “stage” sits two thrones – fit for a king and queen. Before you take your seat, you’re given an initiation shot which – if you weren’t already tipped off by the show’s title – lets you know that you’re in for more than a standard theater performance.

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Drunk Society membership card and initiation shot.

While waiting for the show to begin, you have the option to order a Shakespeare-themed drink, as servers come through the theater and set you up with food and beverage. All of the drinks sounded delicious, but I went with the Heart of Gold – made of vodka, lemon, honey, saffron, and prosecco and garnished with a candy hear on the rim. If you’re there to really enjoy the bar, they have whiskey flights available. Once everyone is set with a libation, the show begins and one couple can bid to upgrade their seating to the thrones (which includes a bottle of champagne, caviar, and involvement in the show).

So, what exactly is this show? Here’s the short version – there are five actors from the Drunk Shakespeare Society that take the stage each performance, and one is tasked to down five shots and try to keep up with the other four…and somehow try to remember Shakespearean sonnets in the process. This particular night was a hilarious rendition of Macbeth, where the night’s drunk actor (Ahmed T. Brooks) had the unique distinction of also having been the drunk actor for the 6pm performance (meaning, by the time his performance started for the 8pm, he was 10 shots in). As you might imagine, hilarity ensued – with some of the laughs due to the alcohol, but the bulk of the comedy coming from the natural talent of the actors (which also included: Thomas Toles, Courtney Rikki Green, Katie Incardona, and Jordan Golding).

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Drunk Shakespeare_19-044 [TOP] The host (Thomas Toles) presents the 5 shots of vodka to drunk actor, [BOTTOM] Ahmed T. Brooks. (Photo by Tom McGrath).
By marrying pop culture and current events with the words of Shakespeare, the laughs were plentiful as the 90-minute performance flew by in a flash. This show is perfect for groups or for a fun date night. The interaction was reminiscent of the days of Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding, but more intimate and immersive. I can’t recommend this enough as it’s fit for Shakespeare fans as well as those who fell asleep reading Hamlet.

All I can say is, if Shakespeare had been taught like this in high school English class, I would’ve cared.

Tidbit rating: 5/5

Get your tickets here! Makes for a great holiday outing or Christmas gift. Note, you must be 21 or over to attend the show. The Lion Theatre is located at 182 N. Wabash, right behind the Chicago Theatre.

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