Story: A traveling Shakespearean troupe has arrived to present its own special version of Romeo & Juliet. ‘Tis a bit different from most productions, though, in that its participants imbibe frequently throughout their performance, liberally sampling vodka and their favorite beer of choice.

They encourage audience members to join them in their frivolity as well, meandering through the aisles to freely dispense with vodka for all willing consumers. It’s not uncommon for the performance to stop at any moment for an impromptu toast from an audience member as well.

The entourage even coaxes one individual from the house to join them on stage in their fevered interpretation of The Bard’s enduring tragedy of star-crossed lovers. No problem if that person doesn’t know the lines. He or she can always spin the “Wheel of Soliloquys” to pad a speech at a key moment. That's part of the fun of this audience-participation version of Romeo & Juliet.

Highlights: There are laughs aplenty in this ribald, risque, adults-only rendition of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy by the fun-loving quintet known as Shotspeare.

Other Info: There’s more to this two-hour presentation than the truncated, one-hour, speed-it-up Romeo & Juliet. The pre-show activity includes frequent forays into the audience by the various cast members who carry large bottles of vodka with them, dispensing to willing drinkers by squirting contents into their open mouths.

Be forewarned that there is vulgarity aplenty in this production, albeit of the fitfully funny variety. These Shakespearean characters don’t hold back with their four-letter-word opinions when things don’t go their way. There is also a bit of tomfoolery happening behind a sheet, with hilariously illustrative lighting, which leaves little to the imagination but a steady roll of laughter.

Matt Morgan, who co-created Shotspeare and also is a graduate of the Ringling Brothers Clown College, leads his cohorts on their merry, intrepid and intoxicated way throughout the evening, which is loud, crude and amusing all the way. He plays many characters, including Friar Lawrence, and looks resplendent in his garishly amusing costumes.

His wife, Heidi Brucker Morgan, plays fair Juliet, although this fair damsel can be as randy as anyone else. Their colleagues Brian David Sloan, Timur Kocak and Brandon Breault round out the clever and cocky cast with flair and plenty of controlled mayhem as Romeo, Mercutio, Tybalt and others.

If you’re interested in a rowdy, raucous and free-wheeling evening that turns Romeo & Juliet on its well-performed ear, Shotspeare has a ticket and a swill of vodka waiting for you in The Playhouse at Westport Plaza.

Play: Shotspeare

Company: Emery Entertainment

Venue: The Playhouse at Westport Plaza

Dates: November 29, 30, December 1, 6, 7, 8

Tickets: $25, plus student and military ‘rush’ tickets (age 21 and up) one hour prior to show for $10; contact 534-1111 or

Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Shotspeare