Taking into account all the productions of “Macbeth” over the past year (including Alan Cumming’s perplexing one-man version and Lincoln Center Theater’s embarrassing staging with Ethan Hawke), plus the fact that another is about to open with Kenneth Branagh, it feels good to take a pause, drink a beer and just laugh at the play.
In “Drunk Shakespeare,” a rotating cast of spirited young actors (known as “The Drunk Shakespeare Society”) perform a 75-minute, extremely loosened up version of “Macbeth” on the second floor of an Irish pub in midtown. It’s a pleasant mix of immersive theater, iambic pentameter, audience participation, slapstick comedy and bar hopping.
The title refers to how one cast member drinks five shots of liquor just as the show is getting started. But seeing as they all indulge in the same carefree spirit, it’s easy to forget who is actually drunk. Audience members are likewise encouraged to buy their own drinks.
The comic bits, while nowhere near as clever as what you’d find in “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged),” are at least cute, such as a dance off (or sing off, depending on the audience vote) between Macbeth and Macduff in lieu of the traditional swordfight. Some lines from the movie “Independence Day” may have also been inserted into the text.
While all these silly antics might look naked or inane on a real stage, they busily fill the limited space between various small tables.
Perhaps the troupe can rotate the Shakespeare play being parodied with whatever is receiving a major revival at a given time. In which case, “Drunk Shakespeare” could be the equivalent of the burlesque-style satyr play that would follow a trilogy of Greek tragedies.
If you go: “Drunk Shakespeare” plays at Quinn’s Bar Upstairs through June 14. 356 W. 44th St. drunkshakespeare.com.