It’s drunken. It’s political. Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats marks the return of the super-talented duo to Summerhall, with a new production originally developed in Malta as a Valletta European Capital of Culture 2018 commission. Whilst on the island, the research headquarters, hanging spot and performance venue was ‘The Pub’, a British expat meeting point and legitimate Oliver Reed shrine. They reproduce this backdrop here in Edinburgh: as we enter the hall, we’re served beers and cheese behind a bar.
Unfolding in their typical expository double act with the aid of projection, the show revolves around the themes of home, immigration and corruption. The apparently ideal microcosm of Malta, home to a significant community of Britons, is also harbour to hundreds of illegal immigrants that are saved every day from the Mediterranean Sea. We are introduced to the multitude of people Sh!t Theatre met and talked to in exchange for a glass of rum. Some of them retired on the island country and don’t know what’s going to happen after Brexit. Others escaped wars or worse, and don’t know where they are going to go next. A couple work for organisations trying to help those affected by the immigration crisis that Europe is now facing. It’s a whirlwind of lives and stories that are carefully interwoven in the structure of the story.
“Despite technically not being in previews anymore, this is still a preview in our hearts and in the tech box”. We all laugh, and laugh again throughout the show. Friends and colleagues Louise and Rebecca know how to talk to the audience; they are not scared to be personal, improvise and interact, or say sorry for cutting each other’s lines. But no mistake or accident could ever tarnish the absolute masterpiece they have created, or muddle the incredible balance between the piece’s fun and pure horror. Yes, if I had to pick one word to describe Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats, it would be balance – between life and death, laughter and tears, safety and uncertainty. We keep moving from one to the other with ease, we find ourselves in the darkest of places without even realising it and we are skilfully brought back to lightness with a clever joke or a song.
If I were allowed to use more words, I’d add hilarious, eye-opening, necessary. And yet, none of them would be enough. Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats is a show that needs to be experienced and lived. You need to be touched by it to understand.