Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats. It sort of seems to sell itself fairly well by the title doesn’t it? A fun-filled hour of rum, Cisk (a Maltese beer) and shanty songs, all to be found in Malta, home of sun, sea and fiscal freedom.
Though it sounds like it’s going to be yet another Brexit-themed play – so often found at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – extolling the values of European culture for an hour at the expense of British expats/emigrants, so much more is to be found here.
Sh!t Theatre, now in their ninth year of performing at the Fringe, unravel Valletta, European City of Culture 2018 (affectionately known as the ‘new Hull’ before the audience). We meet their new-found British friends at The Pub, a pub in Valletta literally called The Pub. We also meet migrants coming to shore from Libya; that is, at least the lucky ones who have been rescued. It’s then revealed that corruption is rife in Malta, as citizenship is available to those willing to pay €650,000 for it – a small sum for the oligarchs wishing an entrance into the EU. Further layered on top of this is the assassination of a journalist that was critical of the corruption in the Maltese political system, and suddenly the land of sun, sea and fiscal freedom seems much darker than initially it would seem.
The beauty of these revelations is in their delivery. Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole are skilled performers, adept in their ability in explaining how much they love Malta, but nevertheless showing the deep-rooted flaws with it. Not once does it feel didactic or forced in its delivery. With all the weight of the problems above it, the end collapses them and allows the horror of them to flood over the audience. Seemingly hopeful situations are allowed to fleetingly appear before they are broken down into the abyss. This is how political theatre ought to be done: wonderfully poignant and brutally effective. It leaves the audience in awe. One can only hope that this play can act as a galvanising force to bring about political change.