So much of the fun of watching Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit, aka Sh!t Theatre, has been in their sense of wayward, devil-may-care abandon. Like theatrical punks, they have gloried in the rough edges of shows such as Letters to Windsor House (about flat-sharing squalor and the rise of gentrification) and DollyWould (about Dolly Parton and cloning). Their noisy, squabbling, raucous performance art has always been funny and full of attitude.
Pleased to report none of that is diminished in Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats, which starts with them serving beer to the audience from a makeshift bar before sequences of crowd-surfing mayhem and vulgar singalongs. Their sense of humour and defiance is intact. With their St George’s Cross face paint, rum-guzzling competitions and stories of heavy partying, you would never call them ladylike.
But what makes this show so special is that they also have a theme of political import. They play a deceptive game. With the drink flowing, they give the impression it’s going to be a show about their boozy trip to Valetta. They are taking part in the 2018 European Capital of Culture in Malta, where they appear to spend all their time in the Pub, the watering hole where Oliver Reed drank his last. I have been in this bar, with its perverse celebration of excessive alcohol consumption, and it is everything they say it is.
Their delight in such a temple of hedonism, coupled with their amusement at the conversations they have with British expats, are strands that hold the show together. But that only makes the real meat of the show seem more sobering still. Because while they are living it up, refugees are dying at sea, protests are taking place over the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and a scandal is brewing over the selling of EU passports to anyone with big enough funds.
The juxtaposition is shocking. It makes for a brilliant, upsetting and politically angry performance that, in its playful anarchy, highlights the true absurdity of our times.