Off-Broadway Theater Review: SHAKESBEER (New York Shakespeare Exchange)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on April 15, 2014

in Theater-New York


In ShakesBEER, NYC’s Original Shakespearean Pub Crawl, New York Shakespeare Exchange members perform ten-minute scenes from four Shakespeare plays in as many bars over the course of three hours. The locations change with every incarnation of the show; the most recent one was hosted by The Liberty, Peter Dillon’s Pub, Galway Pub, and Blaggard’s Pub, all in midtown Manhattan, with selections being preformed from As You Like It, Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth Night (the first and third excerpt directed by Cristina Lundy and the second and fourth by Ross Williams).

Vince Gatton in ShakesBEER - a Pub Crawl by New York Shakespeare ExxchangeFor the price of admission ($45) the viewer gets a beer cozy and four drink tickets, redeemable for most beers and well drinks. The concept of ShakesBEER is as gimmicky as it sounds and looking at the show from a purely artistic standpoint there are some issues: The bars are not rented out for the performances, which means that in each one at least a third of the patrons are not there for the Shakespeare – they don’t care about Shakespeare, they don’t want to see Shakespeare acted out while they’re drinking with their buddies, and their bar conversation makes hearing the actors difficult. The actors for their part are faced with the herculean task of trying to command a room of inebriated individuals, thirty percent of whom don’t want them there; as game and charming as these young performers are, most of them are not up to the task. In general the portrayals, although technically sound, are unmoving. The one actor who stands out is Vince Gatton. His Vince Gatton in ShakesBEER, a Pub Crawl by New York Shakespeare Exxchange.charismatic presence and truthful renditions manage to briefly create a little window into an alternate reality in the middle of Midtown.

Whatever the show’s flaws, it does have entertainment value: My companion was having a ball, and it appeared that most of the rest of the audience was as well. The next ShakesBEER is slated for May 31, with subsequent performances scheduled for June 7, August 9 & 16, October 4 & 11, and December 6. The show is exactly what it sounds like, no more and no less. It isn’t miraculous, but if it seems like it would be fun for you to attend—then it probably will be.

Vince Gatton in ShakesBEER - a Pub Crawl by New York Shakespeare Exxchange.Performers vary; the April 12 performance included Brian Chang, Franny Civitano, Annie Paul, Elizabeth Neptune, Carey Van Driest, Chris Corporandy, and Phil Mutz.

photos by Joe Schulz

New York Shakespeare Exchange
next date Dec. 6, 2014 at 3:00
Bailey’s Corner Pub (1607 York Ave at 85th St)
for info and tickets, call (800) 838-3006
or visit Shakespeare Exchange

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