BWW Review: ADELAIDE FRINGE 2020: SH!T THEATRE DRINK RUM WITH EXPATS at The Studio, Holden Street Theatres
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Wednesday 12th February 2020.
Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats is a tale told by Rebecca Biscuit & Louise Mothersole, Becca and Lou to you, who, having been invited to the 2018 Valletta European Capital of Culture in Malta, partied at The Pub and created this riveting production to tell what they found and what they did. The production was the winner of Holden Street Theatres' Edinburgh Fringe Award for 2019.
As the audience enters, the duo is already firmly ensconced behind the bar of a quite elaborate pub set, pouring and handing out glasses of Coopers beer. Their faces painted white and red with the Maltese cross, and wearing military jackets of a bygone era, made it clear that this was going to be a wild ride. Those near the front and on the edges of the first few rows were pleasantly surprised, a while later, when they were actually served nips of dark rum. There were plenty of other surprises to come.
The audience settled, they came forward, and had me with them right from the start by singing a sea shanty in superb two-part harmony, in place of an overture. Much later, we all had a chance to sing along on that old favourite shanty, Haul Away, Joe, with the lyrics displayed on the screen at the back above the bar for those who needed them. The occasional musical interludes were a bonus. We also learned a few words in the Maltese language.
It all begins as a combination of travelogue, holiday diary, complete with a slide show, and comical account of their trip. They recount their antics, tell of the characters whom they met and the alcohol consumed, but, gradually, it transforms, becoming darker, edgier, and political, whilst still retaining a fair degree of humour.
Brexit is coming, and so are boatloads of migrants. The government is selling European Union passports and a journalist investigating the corruption is killed by a car bomb. The memory of Oliver Reed, who died in Malta, remains strong, and there are British expats aplenty. The performance also includes a brief appearance by an adorable puppy.
Becca and Lou have created, and perform, a solid gold production that thoroughly captivates. The pace never flags and the balance of humour, anarchy, and political comment is prefect. This is what the Fringe is, or should be, all about.
With so much multimedia involvement throughout the performance, the work of their technician, Jenn Smethurst, deserves a special mention.
Do not miss this astounding piece of innovative and powerful performance that defies classification.
As a bonus, Holden Street Theatres now has a solidly built food hut serving, appropriately, on the day, delicious and perfectly prepared Maltese cuisine. There will also be Thai food and many snacks. Be sure to arrive early enough to get something to eat, or book several shows and allow for a meal break between them, or have something to eat after a show. Yes there are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. There is also a well-stocked bar inside the main building, of course, serving a wide range of drinks, and they can be taken into the theatres.