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‘Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats’ review

  • Theatre, Experimental
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats, 2019
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Sh!t Theatre’s show about a work jolly to Malta turns into their best and hardest-hitting work to date

This review is from the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. ‘Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats’ transfers to Soho Theatre in October 2019.

Like a pair of younger, drunker Louis Therouxs, Becca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole – aka Sh!t Theatre – have a habit of stumbling into situations where they would seem to be catastrophically out of their depth, only to emerge with work twice as profound and a kerjillion times funnier than that of their more sober peers.

‘Letters to Windsor House’ was both a hilariously flippant primer in what a nightmare the face-painted duo must be as housemates, and also the most incisive show about the London housing crisis I’ve ever seen. ‘Dollywould’ was a wilfully lightweight show about the pair’s obsession with Dolly Parton that was also a haunting meditation on mortality.

In some ways ‘Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats’ is their quintessential piece, a culmination of their work as aesthetes, storytellers and pissheads. Now upgraded to Summerhall’s main stage, the big(ish) budget affair sees the duo actively plying their audience with booze as they use their trademark mix of songs and wry, fleeting video clips and slides to recount the time they were lured out to an exotic island, only to find dark secrets beneath the happy surface.

The island was Malta, and the lure was money, offered to the perma-skint Biscuit and Mothersole via a Maltese friend in order to create a show about ex-pats for last year’s European City of Culture celebrations, held in the Maltese capital Valletta. Their base of operations and eventual performance space was ex-pat haunt The Pub, a popular drinking den and tourist trap indecently proud of the fact that the actor Olivier Reed died there on a drinking binge 20 years ago.

At first their irreverent docu-theatre approach shows them having the time of their lives on a whacking great jolly to the Med; but as the pair become acclimatised to Maltese life they start to notice the weird politics of the place, start to take an interest in the stream of migrant boats making a hazardous journey over from North Africa and become sucked into the ongoing fallout from the assassination of crusading Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The accepted definition of ‘ex-pat’ is challenged, as the pair start to hang out with refugees, while also looking into the dubious Maltese passport trade Galinza was investigating when she was killed.

I don’t think the show is primarily intended as an exposé of the dark side of Malta (although it kind of is that too). On one level it clearly simply exists as a ripping yarn. But also, in its own wilfully non-earnest way, it’s a show about the perils of turning your back on the world in order to pretend there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s about ignoring refugees, ignoring corruption, ignoring home, ignoring abroad, of taking the easy route. Sh!t Theatre are themselves compromised: they removed all the political content from the show they performed in Malta, not wanting to get their friend in trouble.

But what Malta has lost, we’ve gained: from larky beginnings, ‘…Drink Rum with Expats’  becomes a vivid, punky tour de force in which Sh!t Theatre’s natural larkiness comes served with shots of pure anger.

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski

Details

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Price:
£12-£21. Runs 1hr 15min
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