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Author: Edward Bond
Director: Chris Cooper
Venue: St James Cavalier, Valletta
Dates: 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 March 2013
Cast: Manuel Cauchi, Simone Spiteri, Joseph Zammit, Pia Zammit, Victor Debono, David Persiva, Colin Fitz, Philip Leone-Ganado, Leander Schembri, Jo Fuller, Steve Hili, James Sultana, Shaun Caruana, Luke Caruana, Francis Nwobodo
Summary: A man tries desperately to communicate with his daughter but fails. What follows is the man's drama as he commits a terrible crime and pays for it by going to prison. Once released from prison, a policeman bent on revenge does his best to frame up the protagonist and send him back inside.
*a co production with St James Cavalier, Centre for Creativity, Valletta.
supported by the Malta Arts Fund, the Malta Lotteries Good Causes Fund, the British Council and Excelsior Hotel.
What the papers said:
Theatre Takes A Violent Turn
The concept of entrapment in modern society is not limited to physical detention and confinement from others. It is often a sense of isolation that begins within a mental state that has been filled with psychosocial norms and conventions of what is expected of us.
This often leads to an almost obsessive desire to conform, which creates the suppression of personal frustrations and desires, sometimes culminating in explosive outbursts and lashing out that may have very negative, even fatal consequences, as was clearly seen in Unifaun Theatre’s production of Olly’s Prison last weekend.
At the post-performance talk last Friday – which was marred by the fact that it was very hard to make out what the panel was saying most of the time due to a lack of clarity – playwright Edward Bond did not concede that the play is overly violent, but I find that there is undoubtedly a particularly vindictive violence in it, born of rashness and executed with precision.
It is about the violence of the mind, which can sometimes be much worse than its physical expression. To be sure, its final result may have been physical, but its worst effect was the torturous power it wielded on the vulnerable psyches of the characters involved.
It all starts with Simone Spiteri’s depressed, silent role, where she sits practically motionless at the dining table in the home she shares with her father, Mike, played by Manuel Cauchi.
In a cleverly conceptualised twist on the communicative effects of theatre, and for reasons unknown to the audience, Spiteri’s character, Sheila, opens the play by not communicating at all with Cauchi’s Mike, contriving a situation where he is compelled to sustain a tour de force of a monologue as a one-sided conversation.
It was a pity that, from where I was sitting, Spiteri had her back to me and I could therefore not fully appreciate the subtle changes her facial expressions made, but her body language was more than enough to indicate Sheila’s disinterest and detachment from the world around her.
Silence is not only isolating for those who give it, but also for those who receive it. Mike’s reaction to his daughter’s disinterest in his attempts at making conversation becomes a challenge and then an insult to his power and authority as a father and as a man – degenerating his attitude and self-control to an animalistic reaction whose consequences haunt Mike for the rest of his life. I found Cauchi’s portrayal of Mike to be rather subdued, almost mellow especially in view of his escalating violence; however, this was punctuated by instances of real panic and shock at the realisation of his crime.
It was certainly a gripping opening scene, where the tension was finally diffused by Pia Zammit’s excellent Vera, Mike’s neighbour and lover who brought a semblance of comic relief because of her simple, straightforward view of things.
Hers was a poignant naivety, where inherent optimism was punctured by personal sorrow and the desire to improve her lot as best she could.
The interaction between Mike and Vera put across the dysfunctional element in many modern relationships because these were two people who had very different views on what they deserved and wanted out of life, particularly when Mike is finally released from prison following a 10-year stint.
Having left his apartment to Joseph Zammit’s Frank, Sheila’s boyfriend, he now finds that Vera has bought it herself in an unhealthy obsession with an idealised scenario of her life with Mike.
In prison, Mike has encountered Victor Debono’s Barry, an older man who acts almost childishly, and David Persiva’s Smiler, a young man, little more than a boy, whose bravado and crude, loud sense of fun make him a favourite with many inmates.
Prison becomes a refuge and a safe house in a further twist of societal fate. Roles of power, authority and masculinity are well-defined and adhered to in such a contained environment and Smiler, outwardly happy as he is to be leaving soon, cannot reconcile this promise of newfound freedom with the fear of the outside – the fear of not having your day planned out for you, of having to get on with your life as best you can.
I found Persiva’s portrayal of Smiler as very sensitive and credible, using his relatively short role to make a lasting impact on the audience, while Debono’s Barry was also a strongly defined character with all his petty shortcomings exposed to public view.
It was rather a pity that, while their interpretation was excellent, their clarity was sometimes marred by the combination of rhythms which were perhaps too fast for their working-class British accents.
Mike’s relationship with Smiler’s mother, Ellen, begins with her trying to figure out what happened to her son in prison and, while she tries to understand Smiler’s motivation, Mike tries to understand hers.
Jo Fuller’s Ellen could have been much better developed dramatically – while she showed an understanding of a devastated mother’s role, her emotive reactions were not quite as nuanced as they could have been.
Steve Hili’s brash Olly – Smiler’s original victim – has an odd relationship with Ellen, who takes on a motherly role towards him as a surrogate for the son she no longer has. Olly is both victim and victimiser to Smiler, whose hidden fear of an encounter is one of the main reasons for his end. But it is Frank who finally connected all three incidents and emerged as the most violently charged link – from bumbling boyfriend to police officer, he has held the power of conventional authority in his hands all along.
Zammit’s portrayal of this young man enjoying the legally sanctioned violence afforded to him by his uniform was excellent. Director Chris Cooper, whose previous experience in directing this play served him well at St James, made the most of the round theatre, but could have coordinated certain cumbersome scene-changes better on Romualdo Moretti’s set.
His vision, however, was clear: Bond’s criticism of the injustices of society is strong, clear and justifiable, making supposed concepts of freedom prisons of the mind.
-Andre Delicata, The Times Of Malta, 13 March 2013
Society as a Prison
Adrian Buckle and his Unifaun Theatre have done it again by presenting at St James Cavalier the first production in Malta of a play by Edward Bond, Olly’s Prison.
The author is celebrated in Europe but his plays are not often performed in his native England. The author was in Malta to advise on the production.
It is a long and bleak play, a modern version of the tragic drama produced by bygone eras, and certainly not the kind of play even our sophisticated theatregoers love.
A number of people in the audience on the first night could not take it and left during one of the two intervals. The direction by Chris Cooper, a British professional, brought out the script’s power again and again and excelled in depicting a murder scene in the first part and the horrifying beating up of Olly in the third part.
But, unsurprisingly, it could not shape the rhythm of the play’s conclusion, which is abrupt and needs scene changes impossible to achieve speedily in this theatre’s intimate space.
As written for television with a subsequent adaptation for the stage, the play is of course British (provincial, I think) in its dialogue and character psychology. The St James programme states: “We have given this play a contemporary Maltese setting.”
However, except for the fact that the accents of all but two of the cast did not evoke Britain (though neither did they evoke Malta particularly) and also for the props used in the third part which could easily be Maltese, the production has next to nothing Maltese about it. On the other hand, I found it easy to accept Mike, Vera, Frank and Ellen as characters in a geographically neutral setting.
The play’s remarkable opening, which brought out the virtuosity of Manuel Cauchi as Mike, may owe something to a play that did well in Britain in the 1960s, Bill Naughton’s Spring and Port Wine, which I remember seeing in the 1970s at our Labour Party’s shortlived theatre in Marsa.
That play features a stern paterfamilias who will not tolerate one of his daughters’ refusal to eat a particular dish, and has it placed before her relentlessly meal after meal. Bond’s Mike is much more complex and also quite merciless. He strangles his daughter (Simone Spiteri) after having tried both gently and with increasing anger to persuade her to have a cup of tea he has prepared for her.
In a post-performance question and answer session, Cooper seemed to be hinting that he saw the teacup as symbolical of the chalice used in the Catholic Mass and other religious rituals. This would make Mike a representative of the traditional Christian father, and his daughter a young person who steadfastly ignores the many appeals to conform to his religious ideology.
Bond himself explained that what he is constantly criticising in his work is the kind of society found in most countries, a society interested in enforcing law and not in seeing that justice is done. Mike himself, with his daughter, is doing this. And so is the ruthless and loathsome policeman Frank, who is so determined to send Mike back to prison by framing him for the beating up and mutilation of another man.
The play’s title embodies Bond’s view that the oppressively legalistic functionaries of the State can be found in all corners of society, for the whole of society is a virtual prison. Indeed, I think it is Mike who says that in prison a man has more freedom than outside it.
The production is dominated by Cauchi’s Mike, who constantly tortures himself about the murderous act he has done, a tragic figure whose comments to others and to himself grip the audience again and again.
His failed attempt to hang himself in prison, which gives another prisoner the chance to top himself, is a grim scene needing quite a little suspension of disbelief from the audience, but Cooper’s imaginative direction of the scene in the intimate space at St James makes it impressive.
As Frank, Joseph Zammit gets off to a weak start with his elegant diction. He finds the character in the great scene where he beats up Olly (Steve Hili, whose relaxed style held me) after having stripped to his black underwear, to make sure no blood stains his uniform. In this scene, Frank is a murderous machine, but he hints at the psychological cost of his horrifying behaviour by muttering about his being tired.
Pia Zammit is a thoroughly three-dimensional character as Vera, a woman who longs for a steady relationship with Mike, to replace the weekly sex he hitherto has offered her. She rouses one’s pity when, despite all she has done to make him comfortable and happy when he comes out of prison, he walks out into the night.
Jo Fuller’s Ellen, mother of Smiler (David Persiva, who excels in delivering the character’s grotesque jokes), the prisoner who hangs himself in prison, does not find the character’s emotional charge.
Her final and completely unexpected scene in bed with Mike right at the end of the play shows Bond trying not quite successfully to give the play a conclusion to remember.
-Dr Paul Xuereb, The Sunday Times of Malta, 17 March 2013
Edward Bond’s drama staged on a Mediterranean island struggling to shake off the weight of its Catholic past
Legendary English playwright Edward Bond doesn’t often come to Malta, but when he does, he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. After the first performance of his Olly’s Prison — a stage version of the 1993 BBC television series — Bond takes the stage for a Q&A. Dr Paul Xuereb, who is the Mediterranean island’s premiere theatre critic, asks him: “Why are your plays so violent?” “They’re not violent,” replies Bond quietly. “Read the play.”
Bond goes on to explain that Olly’s Prison, now enjoying a short run at Valletta’s St James Cavalier Theatre in a co-production between St James Cavalier and Unifaun theatre company, is about silence. The characters, he argues, are not violent because they are depraved, but because they cannot tolerate silence. “Silence,” says the playwright, “does not cause the violence but it releases it.” Because society does not understand itself, the characters in the play — especially Mike and his daughter Sheila — do not understand themselves. And the result is violence. “Whenever we cannot speak and cannot hear there is and always will be violence.”
Bond once also said that he writes about violence as naturally as Jane Austen wrote about manners, director Chris Cooper reminds me over coffee in the cafe of the St James Cavalier Theatre. He is one of Bond’s leading interpreters in the UK, having staged eight new plays of his for Birmingham’s Big Brum company since becoming artistic director in 1999, and his version of Olly’s Prison is as powerful, truthful and dark as the chiaroscuro of the Caravaggio painting in Valletta’s cathedral, which he cites as an inspiration.
With its story of how the widower Mike murders his daughter Sheila (played by Manuel Cauchi and Simone Spiteri) and then faces the consequences (prison, release and revenge), Olly’s Prison is an uncomfortable play, with a tense beginning and several excruciating scenes. Compellingly acted by an excellent Maltese cast, it left members of the audience visibly shaken. Cooper defends its relevance, saying, “I see the play at home in England and on the streets and in the cafes and restaurants of Malta, on the faces of the buildings and people in the street; more importantly I see the play in myself.”
Cooper argues that the play is a contemporary tragedy. But that “our world is more complex today than the world that Euripides or Shakespeare wrote about — our experience is more fractured and confusing. Olly’s Prisonlays our situation bare for us to see ourselves in it; to see the self in society and vice versa.” He is in Malta at the invitation of Unifaun’s Adrian Buckle, whose theatre company specialises in staging the best of British cutting edge drama:Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill and Martin McDonagh.
Since he set up Unifaun in 2000, Buckle has dreamt of staging Bond’s work and now his dream has been realised. But his relationship with the Maltese authorities hasn’t always been sunny. In 2009, he clashed with them over a production of Scottish playwright Anthony Neilson’s Stitching. With its heavy Catholic heritage, the island practised theatre censorship in a way that reminds me of the worst excesses of the British Lord Chamberlain in the 1950s.
They banned Stitching because the Censorship Board, officially known as the Film and Stage Classification Board (but don’t let that fool you), thought that its content was too controversial: swearing on stage is frowned on in Malta. And the censors were not keen on, in the words of one court judgment, the “extensive use of vulgar, obscene and blasphemous language that exalts perversion, vilifies the right to life”, makes “fun of the suffering of women in the Holocaust, and reduces women to a simple object of sexual satisfaction.” Having seen the play in London, I’m led to wonder at the lurid imaginations of these censors since Neilson certainly doesn’t do these things.
But these smut hounds have had a long history of sniffing out sexual and blasphemous content from Maltese culture. In October 1989, Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ was banned. In 1992 Dr Alex Comfort’s The New Joy of Sex was impounded by Customs for being too “explicit”, followed by a ban on the “pornographic” movie Basic Instinct. In February 1996, John Webster’s 1613 play, The Duchess of Malfi, was censored by the Ministry of the Arts, which ordered a visiting British troupe, Cheek by Jowl, to cut a scene where the Duchess, about to be killed, kicks a small crucifix across the stage. The play was being performed at the Manoel Theatre, Valletta’s equivalent of our National Theatre.
Despite the defeat of Buckle’s appeals in the Maltese courts, he stresses the fact that he is determined to stage Stitching. He is planning to go to the European Court of Human Rights, and it looks like time is on his side. Since Malta joined the EU in 2004, there has been pressure for the country to modernise. Theatre censorship was finally abolished last year (although the ban on Stitching still stands) and the prospect of being a European Capital of Culture in 2018 has concentrated official minds on the image of the island.
To me, Malta still remains in a timewarp. At the entrance of the cathedral, a sign forbids the wearing of “stilettos and narrow heels”, and shawls are available to cover impious bare shoulders. This sense of a Catholic culture being preserved in aspic, having survived 150 years of British colonialism, remains strong. The streets of Valletta are full of British red telephone and post boxes, but along with the clouds of incense pouring out of churches there’s a strong whiff of Talibanic restrictions.
But today there are also signs of change. Since independence in 1964, the island population of 450,000 has embraced democracy, and electoral turnout is always more than 90 per cent. During my visit, there was a general election (9 March) and, on a hot and sunny day, long patient queues outside the polling stations. The election of the Labour Party, which won after some 25 years of conservative Nationalist rule, suggests an appetite for change. As its supporters took to the streets, waving flags and honking klaxons, people partied late into the night.
But will this change help theatre in Malta? As outsiders, Cooper and Bond refrain from commenting, and some of the island's cultural players are equally circumspect. Chris Gatt, who runs the St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, with its 150-seat in-the-round theatre (where Olly’s Prison is playing) and arts cinema, says, “The question will be whether they will let us get on with the job or whether we are going to be asked to become mediocre to seem to be populist,” he says. He describes the centre as “a laboratory, with a mix of different genres and activities” and his mission as focusing on the challenges of the contemporary.
Buckle acknowledges the help that he was given during the furore over Stitchingby the then Shadow Culture Minister Owen Bonnici and Shadow Education Minister Evarist Bartolo. “They even came to see a rehearsal of the play,” he says. “The new Prime Minister Joseph Muscat did not, but he spoke clearly in our favour when the then Nationalist Minister for Culture Dolores Cristina kicked us out of St James Cavalier, where we were rehearsing.” Other than that, “all I can add is that the Labour programme for culture looks very promising. Whether they can deliver is a different question all together.”
Toni Attard, one of the authors of the island’s cultural policy, says, “With the capital of culture around the corner nobody can afford to slow things down. The manifesto of the Labour Party gave due importance to culture and there is political consensus about the importance of creativity. In the past three years cultural spending has increased by 60 per cent and we expect to see further investment.”
Award-winning young playwright Simone Spiteri, who set up the all-female theatre company Du Theatre in 2004 and also plays Sheila in Olly’s Prison, says that she hopes that “the new Labour government will make sure that it keeps building on the foundations that a few very hard-working individuals have laid over the recent years. Also, more importantly, I hope that the new government will also help the culture sector realise its true potential — using the truly talented local artists both here and away from our shores.”
As well as putting on the best of British drama, it would be great for Malta to develop more of its own playwriting talents.
- Olly’s Prison is at the St James Cavalier Theatre, Valletta, until 24 March
- This production of Olly's Prison is supported by the Malta Arts Fund, the British Council and the Malta Lotteries Good Causes Fund
-Aleks Sierz, The Artsdesk, 17 March 2013
La prigione di Olly: Edward Bond in scena a Malta
Colpa ed espiazione, responsabilità e perdono. Ma anche tentativi disperati di far funzionare la comunicazione tra esseri umani. Il testo di Edward Bond va in scena a Malta, grazie alla produzione di Adrian Buckle.
È merito di Adrian Buckle se a Malta arrivano gli autori contemporanei della scena inglese, dando corso a un nuovo fervore teatrale. In questi anni, in qualità di produttore con la sua Unifaun Theatre Productions, Buckle ha portato in scena, con coraggio, testi di Sarah Kane, Martin McDonagh, Mark Ravenhill, Anthony Neilson. Ètoccato ora a Edward Bond con un testo del 1993, scritto inizialmente per la televisione e poi adattato per il palcoscenico: Olly’s prison. Il suo teatro ènoto in Italia, soprattutto per due allestimenti recenti di Luca Ronconi: Drammi di guerra e La compagnia degli uomini, quest’ultimo –un dramma-commedia sulle leggi del profitto, con storie di armamenti e corruzioni, di capitalismi con dottrine diverse, e di contese tra padri e figli –ritenuto dallo stesso Bond una delle migliori messe in scena.Il drammaturgo londinese, poeta, sceneggiatore e regista teatrale, dalla scrittura grifagna e rovente, aristocratico e insieme popolare, forte ma non privo di tenerezza, ha fama di essere un autore duro, corrosivo, crudele. Se si può anche smentire questo credito, di sicuro si può affermare che la sua lettura della realtà lo rende uno scrittore scomodo per le situazioni che prospetta, e per il linguaggio con cui sceglie di descriverlo.
Classe 1934, autodidatta come Pinter e Stoppard, Bond fin dalla metà degli anni Sessanta èstato un osservatore attento e critico dei rapporti di forza messi in atto tra chi esercita il potere e chi lo subisce. Sia che affronti la Storia, sia che la cali nella quotidianità della scuola, della povertà metropolitana, nelle ossessioni delle periferie, nella durezza della vita operaia. Ronconi osservava che Bond usa la Storia come ambito, collocandovi personaggi ed eventi che tratta poi con un’intenzionale, particolare forma di distanza, assolutamente maieutica. Anche in Olly’s prison spetta al pubblico vedere, leggere, interpretare, costruirsi un’idea personale, trarre le conclusioni di quanto la commedia intende comunicare. Per quasi un’ora assistiamo al soliloquio di un padre vedovo, Mike, rivolto alla figlia, Sheila, che, impassibile, seduta e con le mani sul tavolo, non gli rivolge né lo sguardo, né la parola. L’attenzione si focalizza sulla tazza di thè che egli le offre a più riprese cercando un dialogo, e che lei rifiuta di bere. Quel silenzio ostinato e il rigetto verso la figura paterna, lo porterà all’esasperazione. Fino a quando, preso da un’incontrollata furia, la ucciderà. In carcere Mike si chiude a sua volta in un torpore fisico e mentale che lo porterà, nonostante la visita della vicina di casa, Vera, che lo ama e cerca di dargli speranza, a tentare il suicidio. Ma viene anticipato da un giovane compagno di prigione, Smiler, prossimo a uscire, scoperto impiccato col cappio che Mike intendeva usare per sé.
L’inspiegabile atto del giovane aggiungerà ulteriore turbamento e confusione nel suo animo. A nulla varrà la ricerca disperata della madre, Ellen, di capire il motivo della morte insensata del figlio, neanche quando dopo qualche anno Mike, ormai libero, si reca da lei chiedendo ospitalità. Dalla donna incontrerà Frank, il presunto fidanzato di Sheila diventato un poliziotto in cerca di vendetta, che lo perseguita e cercherà di incastrarlo per riportarlo in prigione. Questi ingaggerà, dietro compenso, il compagno di Ellen, Oliver, mutilato a un occhio. Usandolo come pedina e istigandolo alla violenza in un corpo a corpo che serve a caricarlo di odio da riversare poi su Mike per accusarlo, nella colluttazione in casa Oliver perderà anche l’altro occhio. In ospedale, completamente bendato, Olly rifiuterà il conforto di Ellen e di Mike, e, scorrendo il dito sul bordo del tavolino dirà: “Questa, d’ora in avanti, èla mappa del mio mondo”. La sua prigione. Ma anche quella della donna e dell’uomo (che vedremo a letto insieme nell’ultima scena) accomunati dalla morte dei rispettivi figli Prigione nella quale, conclude Mike, ci siamo dentro tutti. Perché essa èdentro di noi come fuori, e non ci si può liberare dalle colpe fin quando non capiamo i motivi. Scoperchiando la violenza latente nella normalità della vita quotidiana, e la perversione della giustizia, Olly’s prison parla di responsabilità e di espiazione, di come la società possa trasformarci in persone violente; di come i nostri atti possano castigarci e perseguitarci, renderci consapevoli o meno del bene e del male, della libertà come dono o come prigione.
È noto che Bond non affida a chiunque i suoi testi per non veder violati contenuto e forma della propria drammaturgia. Ma se c’è uno specialista del suo teatro questi èil regista Chris Cooper, di cui Bond (che ha seguito con generosità le prove dando consigli agli attori maltesi) ha grande stima. La messinscena asciutta e vibrante di Cooper ha trovato una particolare suggestione visiva nello spazio del St James Cavalier Theatre di Valletta: un teatro con la scena al centro e il pubblico attorno. Una vicinanza che crea complicità. Difficile semmai, scenicamente per Olly’s prison, per il variare di ambienti, ma ben risolti dal set-design Romualdo Moretti, che sfrutta le quattro porte della struttura per definire luoghi con entrate e uscite e cambi a vista di oggetti e mobili, che creano interni domestici e di prigione. E sono bravi tutti gli interpreti a dare intensità emotiva ai personaggi. Fra tutti il Mike di Manuel Cauchi, specie all’inizio col suo implorare, rimproverare e minacciare la figlia nel tentativo di suscitare una risposta.
-Giuseppe Distefano, Artribune, 26 March 2013
VJOLENZA MENTALI U FIZIKA
Id-dramm Olly’s Prison ta’ Edward Bond jezamina ghadd ta’ suggetti serji li jistghu jaffetwawna lilna lkoll. Fost temi ohra jesplora l-vjolenza li mhux bil-fors tkun fizika. Jesplora ukoll is-solitudni u l-interazzjoni bejn l-individwu u s-socjeta li jghix fiha. Jistaqsi jekk il-bniedem jistax ihossu izolat minn kulhadd minkejja li jinsab imdawwar bin-nies. It-twegibiet inhallihom f’idejkom gheziez qarrejja ghax certa li kull min qed jaqra din il-pagna jifhem xi tfisser is-solitudni, jew il-problemi marbuta mal-umanita taghna, jew il-vjolenza li tista’ toqtol, anke jekk ma jintuzawx armi.
Fost sitwazzjonijiet li jkexkxu.nsibu l-habs, fejn il-prigunier jinghalaq f’cella biex ipatti ghal xi delitt li kien wettaq. Hekk gralu Mike - parti mahduma b’mod mill-aqwa minn Manuel Cauchi - li qatel lil bintu Sheila (Simone Spiteri) ghax baqghet tinjorah u ma wegbitx ghal kliemu. Dan il-fatt tant jibni stress f’mohh Mike li wasal biex joqtol lil bintu stess – kwazi kwazi minghajr ma nduna x’kien ghamel. Dan rajnieh fl-ewwel att ta’ dan ix-xoghol twil li ha mat-tliet sieghat barra zewg intervalli. F’att li jista’ jitqies bhala monologu ta’ Manuel Cauchi nassistu ghal missier li jaghmel kikkra te ghal bintu li tibqa’ ma tixorbux.. Il-missier beda jiehu lil bintu daqqa bil-hlewwa, daqqa b’rabbja kontenuta waqt li l-pressjoni li tinholoq fih tant bidet tikber li jasal biex jifgaha, imbaghad jerga’ jpoggiha bil-qieghda mal-mejda bhal ma kienet qabel inqatlet. L-attur Manuel Cauchi ittratta dan l-att b’mod eccellenti, daqqa jipprova jiehu lil bintu bil-kalma u l-pacenzja , daqqa b’rabbja kbira, izda qatt ‘il boghod mill-habs (mhux reali) li kien holoq ghalih innifsu, figura tragika ta’ ragel imdejjaq. Meta ssakkar fil-habs ta’ veru iltaqa’ ma’ Barry (Victor Debono) u ma’ Smiler (Dave Persiva) fost ohrajn. Iltaqa’ ukoll ma’ Oliver (Steve Hili), kollha habsin bhalu izda b’attitudnijiet differenti. Tal- bizgha kienet l-attitudni ta’ Joseph Zammit fil-parti ta’ Frank, ghassies ahrax, bniedem bla principji li skont Bond hawn hafna minnhom. L-attur hareg tajjeb mhux biss il-vjolenza fizika meta sawwat lil Olly izda anke l-kattivita innata u estrema tieghu meta kkonfonda iktar ghax ihammeg l-uniformi bid-demm milli ghas-swat li kien qed jaghti lill-prigunier.
Fid-dramm hadu sehem zewg nisa biss (tghid Bond jahseb li n-nisa huma inqas vjolenti?) Barra Simone Spiteri li rrectat minghajr ma qalet kelma wahda biss, hadu sehem Pia Zammit fil-parti ta’ Vera u Jo Fuller (Ellen, omm Smiler) . Vera riedet taf x’wassal ghall-mewt ta’ binha li tghallaq kwazi kwazi b’kumbinazzjoni. Dan ghax kien Mike li ried iwettaq suwicidju billi jitghallaq. Izda meta kien se jwettaq l-att qerriedi jhoss il-bzonn li jaghmel pipi` u ghalhekk imur biex jaqdi l-bzonnijiet tieghu.. Kien f’dak il-mument li Smiler jahtaf l-okkazzjoni u jitghallaq hu. Ghalih kien ahjar li jehles darba ghal dejjem milli jaffaccja ‘habs’ iehor fid-dinja ta’ barra. Ommu riedet tkun taf x’kien gara ezatt qabel il-mewt tragika ta’ binha u fl-ahhar mill-ahhar Mike ighidha li kien tort tieghu ghax halla kollox lest ghat-tghalliq.
Vera, parti mahduma minn Pia Zammit, ukoll kienet figura tragika minkejja s-simplicita taghha (zewg fatturi li nhargu sew mill-attrici) . Fil-passat kienet il-mahbuba ta’ kultant ta’ Mike. Hasbet li meta jinheles kien se jmur joqghod ghandha u ghamlet mill-ahjar biex tilqghu sew. Pero hu xorta jitlaqha u fl-ahhar xena narawh fis-sodda ma’ Ellen, minkejja l-ammessjoni tieghu ta’ htija.
Id-dramm Olly’s Prison kien dramm qawwi li jolqot fil-laham il-haj. Ma kienx dramm allegru jew divertenti u min mar jarah ma harigx b’dahqa fuq wiccu meta hareg mit-teatru. Izda drammi bhal dawn li jezaminaw il-qaghda tal-individwu huma ta’ htiega u ghalhekk Adrian Buckle ta’ Unifaun Theatre Productions haqqu kull grazzi talli gab mhux biss id-dramm imma anke lill-awtur u d-direttur mill-Ingilterra biex jitkellmu mal-udjenza. Pero` darb’ohra nittama li ma jinsiex jaghtihom mikrofonu .
-Joyce Guillaummier, It-Torca, 24 March 2013
pictures by Joseph A. Borg