With one actor shirtless, one eating a burger and others ad libbing or forgetting their lines, the Bar-Crossed Drunkards were determined to leave their audience soggy-eyed and satisfied after an on-stage performance of William Shakespeare’s classic comedy, “The Taming of the Shrew.”
Xanna Prentice, a 31-year-old bartender and director of the show, began rehearsals with her cast in late August.
She started with Bar-Crossed Dunkards around 2021 after a friend founded the group, starring in Drunk Shakespeare productions like “Hamlet,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
An actor in the Gainesville theater scene for nearly a decade, Prentice was itching to dip her toes in something new — directing. For her, there was no better way to do so other than with the group she had been a part of almost since its very beginning.
“The most difficult thing is making things funny,” she said. “Not knowing what is going to read to the audience, not knowing if the actors are going to understand what your vision is.”
But this vision of hers nonetheless came to life at 8 p.m. Wednesday when the Bar-Crossed Drunkards debuted their performance of “Taming of the Shrew” at High Dive, a bar and concert venue located at 210 SW 2nd Ave. The group specializes in drunk, farcical performances of Shakespeare plays, a routine they call ‘Drunk Shakespeare.’
In a typical Drunk Shakespeare show, every actor downs a drink or two before their performance, but only a small few volunteer to be “plastered.”
“We watch out for each other,” Prentice said. “We make sure we don’t totally go off the rails.”
With prominent themes of misogyny, “The Taming of the Shrew” was challenging to make comedic for both the audience and the cast, Prentice said.
“I struggled with trying to make it palatable,” she said. “A lot of my actors had problems with some of the scenes.”
With several changes to the script and plotline, Prentice attempted to please her actors and audience with a more modernized take on the show.
Myth Hendrix, a 22-year-old Regal Butler Town Center employee, portrays the role of Luciento in the production and was one of the three actors drunk during the performance.
After seeing a performance of “Romeo and Juliet” by the Bar-Crossed Drunkards, they were determined to be part of the next project.
“I really enjoy the experience because I enjoy the people I’m doing it with,” Hendrix said.
Buzzed on vodka cranberries before the performance, they were alleviated of any feelings of nervousness or anxiety leading up to their debut, they said.
“Sometimes you mess up a line due to nerves.” they said. “In the case of this, you can mess up a line because you are four shots in.”
As the actors stood on stage ready to begin their performances, shots indeed went down the line as each took one for good luck.
Before the show, Prentice presented a drinking game to the audience, in which they would take a drink to a set of satirical moments in the performance. Among the times the audience would drink included every time the word “shrew” was said, every time a character suggests another should die and every time gaslighting occurs.
Angelina Lopez, an 18-year-old UF biomedical engineering freshman, attended the performance with a friend after winning a ticket giveaway from the High Dive. Receiving news of her luck hours before the show, she had no idea of the night she was in for.
“I had no expectations,” she said of the performance. “It’s pretty funny.”
The Bar-Crossed Drunkards have scheduled two more performances of “The Taming of the Shrew” at High Dive: Oct. 4 and Oct. 16. Tickets are available online or at the door.
Contact Jared Teitel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jaredteitel.
Jared Teitel is a third-year journalism major, and this is his second semester as an Avenue reporter. In his free time, he enjoys running, shopping, and drinking coffee.