Actor James Murphy. Would you quaff a brew served by this man?
Shakespeare didn’t write for drunken women. In his plays, anyway, most of the loutish, slurring behavior is given to the men.
You can see interpretations of Shakespearean pixilation from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery on winding Ownby Lane. Cynde Liffick’s Bard Unbound troupe of five actors will perform seven scenes from various plays involving, well, characters in their cups. They're calling it "Shakesbeer at Bardywood: The Drinking Scenes, Part Deux."
“One assumes that in his life experience, Shakespeare must’ve seen drunken women,” Liffick says. “But in his plays, the women may be virtuous or they may be crazy or they may have any number of odd things about them, but they aren’t inebriated." One could make a case, at times, for Mistress Quickly (the Boar’s Head Inn tavern keeper who notably appears in four plays).
Liffick undertook a “16-year apprenticeship” with Shakespeare as part of the Richmond Shakespeare Co. that merged with Henley Street Theatre. When her role ended in 2013, Liffick started thinking about taking at least parts of the shows on the road to breweries, wineries and wherever else space and the willingness allowed. Among the Bard Unbound’s offerings of the past year have been four evenings at Hardywood of themed Shakespeare events ranging from the battle of the sexes to foolery.
Liffick explains with some enthusiasm, “We wander amid the tables, and talk to each other from one side of the brewery to the other. It’s played in the audience and quite energetic. We don’t dim the lights, we don’t announce we’re starting, we just go. The first couple times we’ve done this, the reactions of people looking around and wondering and saying, ‘Wait! That’s Shakespeare!’ — that’s fun.”
Yup. They went to a brewery and Shakespeare broke out.
In between the theatrical pieces, there’ll be Christmas carols and an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest (you know you’ve got one – wear it that night — and then put it deeper into your chest of drawers).
The action will occur not in the main tasting room, where bands often perform, but in the adjacent events building.
You cannot have Bardic drunkenness without Falstaff in Twelfth Night, and thus he’s here, though his favorite concoction, sack, is more in the wine-brandy family.
The Porter from Macbeth is famously pie-eyed to the point where he hallucinates himself the door keeper of Hell and, after a comic rambling monologue, passes out. This is the scene from which we gain the line — amid various entendres — that while drink enhances desire, it lessens the performance.
Then there is a bit from The Comedy of Errors, when Adriana is railing to her sister, Luciana, about how her husband doesn’t love her anymore. “I made her drunk for this one,” Liffick says with a chuckle. “It just seemed natural.”
The troupe for the show includes Alana C. Smith, James Murphy, LaSean Pierre Greene, Shanea N. Taylor and Liffick.
If you find Shakespeare intoxicating, Liffick is mixing up another Bardic batch for February and the Acts of Faith Festival with a limited run of Twelfth Night, Feb. 13 to 15, also at Hardywood.
“Nobody really knows in this culture what Twelfth Night is, except that its topsy turvy, lower echelon takes over from the higher. We call it Epiphany, which isn’t related to the subject matter of the play. It’s more like Mardis Gras.”
Hardywood isn’t open on Fat Tuesday, but you can come and add some revelry to your Valentine’s Day celebration with Falstaff and crew. “The convention is that you’re drinking and that these Shakespearean people inhabit the same place. It’s going to be kind of wacky.”
As usual, there’ll be food trucks on site to slake your inner grumblings while you imbibe, theatrically speaking, on the best product of Stratford-upon-Avon.