The Malta Independent 23 August 2019, Friday

Only the tablecloth was missing…

Marika Azzopardi Tuesday, 2 April 2019, 11:08 Last update: about 6 months ago

It all happens in one room. Isn't the kitchen table the place where we stop to vent, to celebrate, to moan, to laugh, to discuss, to ruminate, to fight? And routinely to take sustenance of some form or other. And we, the audience, are sitting around it, looking at the unfolding. Seven characters, seven, is all it takes to give us a full experience of what, in a 'facebook', 'insta' and 'Big brother' era, we are pretty much accustomed to. We are voyeurs, sitting in the shadows, rather uncomfortably so, at first, but only until the story unfolds, and then we become riveted.


Have you ever been in a situation where the shit suddenly hits the fan? Well in this story, there is plenty of shit to shovel and not all of it can be considered manure. The author and director is Simone Spiteri and this is a co-production between Spazju Kreattiv and Dȕ Theatre.  Spiteri has, in one fell swoop, provided an overview of the Maltese in the here and now. Tangible, intimate, brusque, and pretty much frequently grossly base, but as real as anyone of us playing the ostrich will fail to acknowledge. And this is about class, politics, religion, social status, stigma, shame, pride, prejudice, and the mobile phone. Ever-present, it is the thermometer by which most people's temperaments are regulated, at least on this island.

Spiteri has done a good job. 'Anzi'..... the plot expands into such a realistic time capsule, that it is frighteningly good. So many contemporary issues, intimacies and undercurrents are woven into the plot, that it is the dynamic reinterpretation of social and private situations we face every day, and not just at the kitchen table. The actors - Andrè Agius, Magdalena van Kuilenburg, Mark Mifsud, Andrè Mangion, Kristjana Casha, Pierre Stafrace and Ryan Cutajar -  champion their complex roles with brilliance and a flair I have not seen in a long time. As passions run amok, the tempo increases and short of being hit by a flying chair, the audience will manage to be taken through a whole gamut of feelings that may, for some, be hilarious, up to a point, beyond which, they fall on raw skin.

One of Oscar Wilde's most famous phrases, and one of my all-time favourites goes like this, "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." Well, in this play, the characters would very much like to see the stars, they aspire to become ones, but are blinded by too much smoke from the fireworks, too many people at the polls and too many confetti in the air. Indeed, the audience, sits witness to a helter-skelter of activity, as the actors go through the motions of preparing g for a 'festa', a national election and a family wedding, all happening in one single weekend. How amazing is that? Pretty much so, and the most amazing thing is that, for some, it may actually have happened. In history, we do know it did..... the election that was and the festas, which had to be unceremoniously shoved out of the way, and, obviously, on that historic weekend, so many glorious wedding plans risked losing their sparkle and probably did.

Repubblika Immakulata may well be considered a satire about our island state and the way we run it. Others may consider it a tragi-comedy. But, most certainly, Spiteri has successfully taken the family nucleus as a reflection of the bigger picture. The play makes us pause and think things over.... our families with their superficial drama and painful tragedies, immaculate if smaller republics within the bigger republic we call 'Malta Taghna'. Our things, our lives, how we go about them. Not all of so very immaculate after all. And as I said in the beginning, when the shit hits the fan...... well, you'd best stand out of the way.... or perhaps, just maybe....... you're already sitting in it.


'Repubblika Immakulata' is at Spazju Kreattiv Theatre, St James Cavalier, Valletta on 31 March; 5, 6, 7 April, 8pm. 'Repubblika Immakulata' is at Spazju Kreattiv Theatre, St James Cavalier, Valletta on 31 March; 5, 6, 7 April, 8pm

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