Drink Rum With Expats
Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth
Always fun and innovative, Sh!t Theatre has created an absolute tour de force worth 75 minutes of anyone’s time.
A seemingly chaotic mix of boozy binges, film clips, photos and song supplement the quickfire storytelling as Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole recreate an alcohol-infused, sobering trip to sunny Malta and its dark underbelly.
Lured by their love of money from Rebecca’s baking and lonely boat and Louise’s busy, sociable new life in Leeds, their commission to perform in the Valletta, European Capital of Culture (ding) celebrations, the dynamic duo faffed about: drinking, exploring, drinking some more and became immersed in the double standards and dichotomies of the expat enclave. And downing more Cisk beer. This is that story.
Clever layering juxtaposes scanny-beepy-passports, golden visas, passports for sale at €650,00, simply obtained passports for pets and refugees dying for the lack of such documentation; loneliness and friends; beloved dogs, killed and ‘emptied’ dogs played as crude bagpipes, and family pets murdered as a warning; expats, immigrants and refugees; sun, sea, frolics, fiscal freedom, torture and death. All very jolly or not.
Dressed in sandals, socks, shorts, epaulettes and face paint, the breathless journey begins with beer for all in a recreation of The Pub—the rowdy local bar, packed with expats, successful immigrants (aren’t they the same thing?), bantering (but never in local lingo other than the occasional ‘zop’) and boozing in the very place Oliver Reed binged and breathed his last as the T-shirts, clock faces and myriad merchandise boast—and we all toast with a shot of rum. Thank gawd we weren’t offered the infamous Oh Dear God kept securely on the back shelf.
Valletta—where the Virgin Mary keeps an eye on the eggs at the supermarket, free cheese is compulsory at openings, fish land on cars during storms and thank god there’s a M&S—is the new Hull but free speech is curtailed, the memorial to assassinated investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is ‘cleansed’ nightly and corruption is rife. Roundabouts are a mystery, Nutella biscuits sell out in a heartbeat while new starts—for the ebullient duo, for refugees, for expats—result in mixed outcomes.
There’s crowd surfing, Brexit, sea shanties, artistic compromise, superb harmonies, a little molten plastic, political censorship, friendship, truth and justice, loneliness… and more Cisk.
Docu-theatre at its best. An absolute must-see.
Reviewer: Karen Bussell