By Mary Boyle
Bard & Bourbon Theatre Company has been bringing drunk Shakespeare to Milwaukee's audiences since 2015 and, if you're a fan of the Bard, it's really an interesting way to experience his work. While the production is as fully staged as any other company's work, one actor takes a turn each show to do their part while taking shots of bourbon, given by their fellow cast members, throughout the performance. While every performance is always unique, even across the normal run of a show, the drunk factor adds a tremendous variable, as well as a great element of fun, to these performances. Many of Shakespeare's works contain at least one drunk character, including The Tempest, which B&B will perform at the Tenth Street Theatre through May 27th but, just to make it more interesting, it rarely the drunk that is the drunk!
The Tempest is the story of Prospero (Joel Kopischke) who, along with his infant daughter, Miranda (Rayne Kleinofen), were banished to sea when Prospero's brother, Antonio (Maggie Marks), stole the Dukedom with the help of the Alonso, the King of Naples (Victoria Hudziak) and the King's brother, Sebastian (Gabriella Ashlin). Prospero and Miranda land on an island inhabited only by the spirit, Ariel (Grace DeWolff) and a human-like creature named Caliban (Ashley Retzlaff), who become servants to the now wizard-like Prospero. Many years have passed when Prospero senses his enemies are near to the island and, plotting revenge, he whips up a storm that tosses them unto his shore, separating the King's son, Ferdinand (Rick Bingen), from his father, Sebastian, Antonio, and the gentle old Gonzalo (Ashley Retzlaff), and sending the drunkard, Stephano (Ro Spice-Kopischke), and the fool, Trinculo (Madeline Wakley) into Caliban's path, thus setting the stage for Prospero's revenge.
Even without added drunkenness, The Tempest is a play full of humor, so it works very well with the addition of a random drunk. Directed by Samantha Martinson, who has also been an actor with B&B, the production is well-cast, with B&B favorites Joel Kopsichke, Grace DeWolff, and Ashley Retzlaff delivering strong performances, and newbies Rayne Kleinofen, Victoria Hudziak, Gabriella Ashlin, and Ro Spice-Kopischke making valiant debut performances. Rick Bingen is particularly fun as Ferdinand, even sober - I'd love to see him as the drunk! The Tenth Street Theatre is the perfect place for this type of production: casual and intimate. This show has a limited run; if you're looking for a fun time, run out and see it while you can!
The Tempest runs through May 27th at the Tenth Street Theatre, located at 628 N. 10th St. in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets are only $18 ($15 for Students, Seniors, Military or Artists) and may be purchased at www.BardAndBourbon.com or at the door. To keep on top of their season, follow Bard & Bourbon on Facebook: