Lockdowns have ended, and for the last six weeks, we’ve been slowly getting back to normal. Most of our time over the last six weeks has had us running around like a kid in a sweet shop, reconnecting with old friends, and enjoying coffees, beers, and meals out. With case numbers dropping, a night out at a show has become a thing once more. So with much excitement this past Friday, we headed into Vienna’s Inner Stadt to Aera, a great bar with a wonderful performance space below. We were ready to relax, with a bunch of actors, performing a table read of ‘When Harry met Sally’, the classic rom-com. Oh and there’s alcohol. Lots of alcohol. Welcome to ‘A Drinking Game Vienna’.
What’s a drinking game?
A drinking game began across the water in the home of all that is sparkly and bright. That’s right, Los Angeles. The idea is simple. A group of actors get together, get a great script from the 1980s and then perform it for an audience, complete with props. To add a little extra Zing, or being from LA, Cilantro (That’s coriander to us, and in LA, it’s on everything) The cast adds alcohol. When another character refers to someone by their character name, The actor takes a drink. As an example, when Venkman says Ray in the ghostbusters, Ray takes a drink. That may be bad enough, but there are also a bunch of ‘keywords’ in the script that also trigger a drink, and this time the Audience joins in the fun. If all goes well, the show starts off well, then degenerates into chaos as the actors get progressively drunker, along with the audience. It’s a great idea and Vienna has its very own Drinking Game crew provided by the wonderful Open House Theatre. It’s the only officially licensed Drinking Game group outside of the US. That in itself is pretty awesome.
We arrive early, knowing we’d need to show our vaccination or test status before we’d be granted entry. Lockdown may be over, but the risks still remain, and prudence is welcome. Our ticket for tonight’s show is in hand, and we grab a drink from upstairs, before heading downstairs, where we’re allocated seats. It’s worth buying an extra drink before the show starts, though a waiter works his way through the crowd during each act. There’s an intermission to allow for a bathroom break and a chance to buy more alcohol ready for the next act.
At 8pm the show begins and the wonderful Alix Martin takes the stage to brief us on the rules, and to introduce the cast. Alix will be our narrator tonight, guiding us through the story. As for our cast, it’s a cast of four. Playing Harry is Howard Nightingall. Playing Sally is Sophie Kozeluh, Then playing all the other women, Nicola Ségur, and playing all the other men and Alice is Dave Moskin. Already it’s clear the actors aren’t going to behave, as they produce a selection of beers, each actor seemingly outdoing the last. Dave comes on last with a Keg!. Yup this is going to be fun.
Ring my bell.
The show begins well and the drinks start flowing. We in the audience have a list of words to listen out for, though if we miss one, Alix rings a bell indicating it’s time to take a sip. As the show progresses, and the glasses empty, we become more reliant on the bell as paying attention becomes difficult. The actors are clearly enjoying themselves, and the name-dropping of a fellow character grows, adding extra lines to a script. The back and forth interplay is infectious. We become part of the problem, watching for a missed name before letting that person know they need another swig of beer.
Alongside the beer and the script, there are props, and Dave starts to steal the show with a selection of ridiculous wigs, a dodgy fake mustache, and many, many silly accents. There can be only one star though in this script, and that star belongs to Sophie. The infamous scene at the diner where Sally fakes an orgasm is played out by Sophie with aplomb. When she finishes, the crowd exploded into raucous laughter. It more or less leads us into the interval, and as an audience, we feel like we could use a post-coital cigarette, and we don’t smoke.
After a refresh and refill, the show continues and it becomes clear that the cast is now starting to get drunk. Having to drink with us and when someone says their character name is taking its toll, in hilarious ways. Props seem to get a life of their own and begin to litter the stage. Giggling becomes more common, and lines begin to trip people up. The audience is also feeling the effects, though the second half has been a bit quieter, and the bell less insistent.
All too soon we reach the end, and much applause fills the room. The cast is the worse for wear, though smiling broadly. It’s clear they’ve enjoyed the night as much as we.
A Drinking Game Vienna has to be one of the most enjoyable nights out in the city. The cast made the night fun, not taking anything seriously. The fact that the audience gets to join in the fun sweetens the deal.
Tickets cost €15 plus €2.50 booking fee. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to drink alcohol, or indeed at all to have fun. Finally, Aera proved a great location with great staff to stage this show. A Drinking Game Vienna does a few of these a year, and you can check out the links below to keep up to date, ready for the next one.
A Drinking Game Vienna Website – https://www.adrinkinggamevie.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ADGVienna
Aera – https://www.aera.at