Review: Shit-faced Showtime – Oliver with a Twist, Leicester Square Theatre

My first time getting Shit-faced…Shit-faced Showtime’s Oliver with a Twist is raucous if unfocused affair at the Leicester Square Theatre

“You’re a rather high-breasted boy”

Just a quick write-up for my first time getting shit-faced… Shit-faced Showtime’s USP is that they perform shows with a whopper of a wildcard, one of their company getting “genuinely inebriated” beforehand and then being encouraged to drink more as the performance goes on. It’s an intriguing set-up and one which has proved endlessly flexible (they’ve just announced Hamlet as their new summer production).  

Their current show at Leicester Square Theatre is Oliver with a Twist, which I caught last week early in its run and I have to say, though I was sceptical to start with, it won me over with the beery-breath charm and close-to-the-knuckle humour that Alan McHale’s Artful Dodger brought to proceedings. Perhaps inevitably, initially it felt there was an element of the performatively drunk but as the hour progressed, it was impossible to resist the chaos he wrought as Fagin was renamed Vegan, Oliver’s body shape was called into question and wayward dogs threatened to derail all.

And herein lies the show’s strength and weakness. The quick-thinking company responded brilliantly to these twists and incorporated them so well, lending a feel of a great improv troupe. But because it is a different person getting drunk every night, the variables here are huge. And the bedrock of the show, a slimmed-down version of evergreen classic Oliver! adorned with songs from other musicals, proves to be perilously slight. 

So the drunk performer isn’t actually the unique selling point here, it is pretty much the only real selling point. Which is fine when it all clicks together and they’re onstage mixing it up. But when you’re watching a sober Nancy sing a straight version of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher. Probably best to join ’em in a few pints beforehand and not overthink it.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Rah Petherbridge Photography
Shit-faced Showtime’s Oliver with a Twist is booking at the Leicester Square Theatre until 12th April

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