2016.05.08 Habbilni Review News Image

INGLESE: That was the big question mark everyone left the Aurora Opera House with, when on Saturday 30th April, they came to watch Simon Bartolo’s Ħabbilni Ħa Nirbaħ. Many thought they were coming for some good time full of laughter. Others came with the thought of watching some spicy scenes unfold on stage. But in the end, they all left the opera house asking whether this was something to laugh at, or rather feel bad about.


Aggiornato: 8 Maggio 2016
Ħabbilni Ħa Nirbaħ
Staġun Teatru Malti & Teatru Manoel Co-Production

Ħabbilni Ħa Nirbaħ, with all of its colourful language, spoke about a stark reality. It served as a wake-up call to those who might have been oblivious of some social realities that exist but lay hidden to the naked eye – at least for us in Gozo. Inspired by true events, albeit the story line is fictional, Ħabbilni Ħa Nirbaħ was all about the shock element – start from the title, and end in the final twist. All the while, the essential components remain true to life.

The Gozo representation was made possible by the support of the Gozo Cultural Council within the Ministry for Gozo and Arts Council Malta. Together, they helped the Aurora Opera House bring to Gozo an innovative kind of theatre. Gozitan audiences have so far not been exposed to social satire. This was an experiment and the audience turnout showed that with a little more work, this kind of drama can gain a foothold.

"As the producers and actors themselves exclaimed after the show, the audience in Gozo was one of the most mature they had"

As the producers and actors themselves exclaimed after the show, the audience in Gozo was one of the most mature they had, providing the proper feedback. People laughed and cheered in the first part of the show, when it was meant to get the seats giggling at times and spur into head-splitting laughter at others. But they hardly uttered a word in the second part of the show when things got more serious.

Bartolo’s scripted lines were raw and street-proof. The play speaks of teen pregnancies, misguided youth, and discombobulated parenthood, so it required language that clearly reflects those kinds of environments. Of course, he had a selection of Malta’s top artistes to bring his script credibly to life. Staġun Teatru Malti assembled a fantastic cast made up of, seasoned Monica Attard, Narcy Calamatta, Josette Ciappara together with Carlos Farrugia, Vince Micallef Pulé, Antonella Axisa, Marceline Galea, LorrianeD'Ugo and Jean Pierre Cassar. The four girls were played by Kim Dalli, Daniela Carabott Pawley, Mariele Żammit u Shelby Aquilina.

Ħabbilni started on an easy note with the audience meeting the idolized world of teenage girls – and a techy nanna who is excited each time she successfully manages to like a picture on facebook (or perhaps stalk a neighbour!). Then it gradually starts turning the spotlight on some unconventional parenting and the complications start sprouting. At that point in time, there is little room for surprise of what could happen when you have teenage girls with all their fantasies and nature’s desires, as well as more ‘mature’ middle-aged parents and partners whose life under the bedsheets seems to have never gone dull.

But Simon Bartolo was not happy to just state the obvious. Actually, the most obvious thing – the girls’ threesome bed scene with Nate Cross – was the only thing that the audience didn’t get to see. That was pretty obvious (so it took place during the break). Bartolo was not happy to just state the obvious. He went to great detail with the pretty not-so-obvious – the adults’ threesome affairs and the heartless, cold and cynical exchange of the baby from an unworthy grandma to an aunt that was not aware that she was not the aunt herself, while the real mother was on her way to Amsterdam and the real father was simultaneously the grandfather.

There are not things we have never heard of before. Things we have not seen on a stage, a couple of metres away from our eyes, yes, but not unheard of. One may question the extent of how ‘real’ or how ‘deep’ we ought to go to portray a true image of the social satire. However, the truth of the topic, and the need to speak about it remain uncontested.

Ħabbilni Ħa Nirbaħ at the Aurora was directed by Mario Philip Azzopardi. Donald Camilleri was in charge of the lights while set and stage were constructed by the Aurora’s team of volunteers aided by Teddy Mizzi.

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