My Theatre

04 November 2014

The History of Beer: An Abridged Review

By // Theatre (New York)

Brief History of BeerYou should really crack a beer before reading this review. Or two.

Here are the rules:
– Take a drink every time I use a period.
– Two drinks if I insert a footnote.*
– Finish your drink if I manage to arbitrarily incorporate the name of a complex math problem into this review.***

How do you feel? Do you think this review is brilliant yet?

Okay, perhaps the “get your reader drunk” approach doesn’t work well for blogging, but it is certainly the strategy embraced by the creators of the “interactive” play A Brief History of Beer at Under St. Marks each Sunday night.

A Brief History of Beer is essentially a theatrical drinking game hosted by William Glenn and Trish Parry. Using a Star Trek-inspired time travel storyline, Will and Trish lead the audience through an abridged history of beer. From the days of the ancient Egyptians to the revitalization of the microbrewery, Will and Trish cover a lot of ground in a very short period of time (and throw in some commentary on the corporatization of the brewing industry for good measure). Their jumps in time are punctuated by “red alerts” when audience members are encouraged to take a drink of their beverages (i.e. complimentary beer).

Billed as a drinkeractive comedy, some of the “facts” presented in this show are questionable which may have more to do with the fast-paced and haphazard presentation style than the accuracy of the content. Perhaps too abridged, the storyline is hard to follow at times as Will and Trish jump from time period to time period and location to location. This issue was exacerbated by technical difficulties at the show I attended, which caused delays and interrupted scenes (the show is heavily dependent upon pre-recorded video, and technology does not always cooperate).

All that said, Trish and Will are energetic and fun actors who clearly have an interest in the subject matter, and they handle intoxicated audience members who get a tad too involved in the show with ease. The set is negligible – aside from a computer, a projection screen, and a few lights, there is little adorning the room. Props are used sparingly, although Trish and Will do indulge in some beer of their own during the performance (I assume and hope that it was beer). Ultimately, this is the sort of act that would work better if Trish and Will were trying to entertain a handful of people at a pub rather than performing for an audience in a blackbox performance space.

So, if you are looking for a communal drinking opportunity on a Sunday night, A Brief History of Beer at Under St. Marks is a unique alternative to hitting up the neighborhood bar. Just don’t expect to learn that much or, with a short-running time of just 60 minutes, to drink that much during the performance.

*Like this.**

**This too.

***Entscheidungsproblem. I’ve been working my way through the annotated guide of Alan Turing’s paper on computability and the Turing machine. You’re welcome. This is also a footnote, so run to the fridge and open a new beer when you are done chugging. I will wait.

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