Image by Lizzie Coombes
Sh!t Actually by Sh!t Theatre – Camden People’s Theatre, London
Sh!t Theatre – Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole – possess an irrepressible talent for having a good time. Last seen combining homemade films, booze, songs, musical theatre and politics to remarkable effect in Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats, they have turned for festive entertainment to the slightly less intuitive subject of ‘Love Actually’. While the corruption and ex-pats of Malta were ripe for exposure, Richard Curtis’ weirdly enduring film hit seems at first glance to be less worthy of attention. Sh!t Theatre quickly show exactly how wrong lazy assumptions can be. Sh!t Actually is a pitch perfect fringe show, thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish while confronting the audience with a succession of social truths that seem obvious only when they are waved in our faces.
The show takes a critical look at Curtis’s cheese-fest classic which, on closer inspection, has not lasted well at all. Women are mostly there to get naked and experience various levels of sexual humiliation, while men are generally absurd. Interrogating the film draws out its worst traits in hilarious detail, and the audience has a fine time with a head-spinning succession of participatory games involving chanting, biscuits, garlic and Bailey’s. The duo play off the ongoing tensions in their relationship – a long-term saga that receives an update with every show – while doing their best to convince us they are simply having their own chaotic form of fun. Of course, they are far cleverer than they would have us believe, and it takes a lot of work to deliver such a handmade yet impactful show. From onstage nudity – mocking the film’s expectations – to porn to satire on casually patronising aid charities – Sh!t Actually hits a list of carefully selected moving targets. It also delivers some truly charming participation, as the audience forms a cheering airport welcoming party for an audience member who has just split up with her partner. Sh!t Theatre certainly know how to enjoy themselves, as their 5-star review celebration ritual of a seafood platter, a Class A drug and a tourist bus trip confirms, but they know how to make theatre that gives everyone else a good time too, and leaves them knowing they’ve seen something special. It can only be 5 stars!