What do you get when you give a classically trained musical theatre actor two bottles of prosecco & some aperol, then throw them onstage? That’s right, the perennial crowd favourite Shit-faced Showtime is back for more drunken madness at the Cowbarn in Edinburgh’s Underbelly. This year’s booze-bathed show is Oliver With a Twist, taking the family classic Oliver! and mixing it up a little bit. With a cast of five, including a pianist, the potential for chaos is high before you add alcohol into the equation.
The story of Oliver Twist will be familiar to most of you, thanks either to the book or one of many adaptations (be it stage, film or TV) – but perhaps the Shit-faced way is how it really happened… Oliver could easily have been initiated into Fagin’s French-speaking gang, right? And maybe Nancy was actually killed by Bill Sikes’ dog Bullseye quite literally flying at her in a rage. These are but two of the embellishments made by Christopher Adams (Charlie/Sikes/Mr Brownlow) in the performance I attended. Ever keen to try out different voices & accents, we were treated to quite the showcase of his drunken abilities – and needed to brace ourselves on several occasions as props & items of clothing came flying towards us (“Why do I always take my clothes off?”).
There was a slight problem with Tom Tilley’s (Artful Dodger) radio mic early on, which was a bit of a shame in conventional ways, but it also opened up more angles for amusement – especially when he had to rely on a handheld mic for a few scenes, confusing Charlie and having no hands-free potential contributed to an unscripted trip (which the other actors of course had to reference when they next saw him).
Other than the slight technical issue, on the whole things managed to go rather smoothly – as well as (paradoxically) madly. Props of course must go to the rest of the case, in particular that night’s Nancy who gamely rocked out during I Dreamed a Dream (following Adams’ direction) and really went for her violent death at the teeth of Bullseye.
Playing at 10pm for an hour (give or take, depending on the drunk), this is the ideal way to round off an evening at the fringe. Whether you’re a musical obsessive or MT hate, there’s something for everyone; I absolutely believe this is the musical concept for anyone who usually can’t stand the things. With unpredictable laughs galore, you’ll leave the Cowbarn beaming, with aching cheeks and tears of laughter in your eyes.
My verdict? Another classic drunken caper for the Shit-faced Showtime team, showing Dickens how it should’ve been done – just watch out for flying sausages…
Shit-faced Showtime: Oliver With a Twist runs at Underbelly, Bristo Square (Cowbarn) until 27 August 2018 (10pm, 1 hour). Tickets are available online or from the box office.