Plastic and Chicken Bones

Malcolm Galea
Give or Take Productions
The Lantern@ACT

Malcolm Galea in Plastic and Chicken Bones Credit: Andrew O'Hara
Malcolm Galea in Plastic and Chicken Bones Credit: Andrew O'Hara
Malcolm Galea in Plastic and Chicken Bones Credit: Andrew O'Hara

In Malcolm Galea’s award-winning solo show, Plastic and Chicken Bones, the action starts with a disconcerting silence in total blackout. It sets the scene for what turns out to be a thought-provoking, dark sci-fi thriller.

It feels set in two time zones simultaneously, since field agent Dryskoll is back in the present from a far distant future, or at least his ideologue (brain, to us mere mortals) has unexpectedly been put to occupy a host a human body in 2024 by controller of all things, Zemlya.

Galea has put together a compelling story in which time travellers return to the Pre-Boot era in an attempt to Retro-Fix the events that have created a perfect storm of man-made global catastrophe and seen off humans as we know them. Dryskoll’s mission has failed, and as he waits to be repatriated to his usual USTC, he is haunted by flashbacks he can’t make sense of until, in retracing his steps, he discovers that the stability of a Zemlya-led future without war, affliction or death comes at a certain price.

Galea is extremely watchable and has an almost apologetic charm when he stops the action, breaking the fourth wall to explain technical terms to the audience, delivering the news of our impending destruction with avuncular concern and using items from the rubbish-strewn set as props for a history lesson.

A cornerstone of successful sci-fi and fantasy writing is the creation of a credible alternative civilisation, and Galea has nailed it, and with the same intelligent hand, he has plausibly linked the human species and its collective responsibility for a shortage of natural resources, rampant nationalism, irresponsible use of AI and the climate crisis to its own destruction with an eerily prescient ring of truth to it.

In this important hour, Maltese theatre-maker Galea is sending back a message from the future that it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti

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