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Minn Wara z-Zipp 2014
Author: Trevor Zahra
Direction: Chris Gatt
Cast: Jean Pierre Busuttil, Renato Dimech, Joseph Galea
Dates: 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 October 2014
Venue: Sir Temi Zammit Hall, Tal-Qroqq
Summary: A revistation to the excellent Penis Monologues written by Trevor Zahra in 2008. Completely revamped with musical numbers and a number of new monologues, this show follows young Redeemer Farrugia through birth, adolescence, first love, masturbation, marriage and senility.
What the Papers Said:
THE MALE MEMBER AS PROTAGONIST
The present revival of Trevor Zahra's Minn wara ż-Żipp (Unifaun at Sir Temi Zammit Hall, University of Malta), first performed six years ago and reviewed by me then at some length, does not differ greatly from the original text, the main important difference being the introduction of a number of clever lyrics, bawdy of course, sung by Maria Luana and played by a lively two-piece band. They are a useful addition to a text that flogs a single theme to death and has no overarching plot.
The piece is structured as a series of "chapters" all of them dealing mostly in a very broadly comic and unrestrainedly verbal fashion with the male generative member. The cast of three - Renato Dimech, Jean Pierre Busuttil and Joseph Galea ,singly or in duos and trios, address the audience, boldly, humorously or with mock shyness, on a whole array of topics ranging from proverbs incorporating the vulgar Maltese word for cock, and the many euphemisms often used for it in common parlance, to the sexual problems incurred by adolescents at one end and aged men at the other end, and the use and hilarious misuse of male contraceptives.
The comical and semi-farcical tone of the piece is suspended for a relatively short time with members of the cast portraying, none too deeply I should say, the emotional and social problems of gay men even in the pretty liberal society of today and of people with serious problems of sexual identity. The cast find this section slightly awkward and the audience response tended to be even more awkward. I remember how well "Snits" Spiteri depicted a suffering gay man in the 2008 production. I fear his replacement, Joseph Galea, who plays the comic scenes successfully, was not up to this character.
Perhaps the most extraordinary episode is the surreal one in which Zahra has his actors impersonate different cocks reflecting the various types of men to whom they belong. In this section Renato Dimech nearly brought the house down with his sanctimonious, ultra pious organ. Busuttil's comic personality is often characterised by his extra boldness, his projection of a supreme self-confidence. He and Dimech are true comics and it is their skill in transforming the very coarse material of most of what they say into something often acceptable to most, that makes the two-act piece that should have been a sixty-minute one-acter into something I could often digest.
Even they and Joseph Galea, however, found it impossible to make the section on the male member as a urinating organ truly funny. The scene showing young adolescents vying with each other about the distance they can pee (a scene borrowed, I think, from a once famous French novel, Clochemerle by Gabriel Chevalier), and the attempts to show the different peeing styles of figures like Rambo or James Bond, were very weak. - humour at its most juvenile.
It was sad for me to see a director Chris Gatt's calibre devote time to this work balanced awkwardly between theatre proper and stand-up comedy, but I have little doubt that it was his skill, honed over decades of theatre work, that brought out the best in the three actors, and he also provided the piece with its excellent lighting.
Paul Xuereb - The Sunday Times, 19/10/14
Unifaun’s revival of Minn Wara ż-Żipp gets another standing ovation
Private secrets unzipped
Maltese audiences love a good rip-roaring, side-splitting laugh, or should one say, in the case of Unifaun’s revival of Trevor Zahra’s popular play, a ‘zipsplitting’ laugh?
To write a witty and intelligent play about the male genitalia is an achievement in itself, but this is what Zahra managed to do and thanks to Chris Gatt’s excellent direction, Minn Wara ż-Żipp, staged over the last two weekends at Sir Temi Zammit Hall, was definitely a good choice for a revival.
The entire production has, as its protagonist, the penis, which was christened firillu in a euphemistic attempt to tone it down from the actual Maltese term for it; but one F-word must lead to others and this very particular member of the male anatomy has had several Fs in a tizzy from Freud to feminists.
Taking the form of a series of ‘chapters’ in the phases of the life of a penis and his hypothetical owner, from childhood to old age, the conversations tackled various issues, often on a roller coaster of hilarity and very well-paced quips and truths which are universally experienced by men of all ages.
Touching upon the darker side of sexuality was a more sober segment on the dark and lonely road men have to walk when dealing with homosexuality, STDs and erectile dysfunction among other related problems, but this quickly gave way to more humorous quips and anecdotes.
The revival saw a few minor script changes to keep the content topical, but the more major change was the inclusion of a vocalist and small band – all members of the larger band Milk Mi (very appropriately named) – Maria Luana on vocals, Myles on guitar and Yan on drums added a great singalong element to an already varied sketch show.
Their supporting music complimented the three main actors’ fine interpretations with the right dose of collaborative showmanship.
Joseph Galea, Jean Pierre Busuttil and Renato Dimech were the three quirky men who took the audience on a narrative journey of what it means to be a man – in a very anatomical sense, and how it influences our behaviour and the way we think. It was as much an exercise in character doubling and short-sketch adaptation as it was in marrying masculinity with emotional awareness.
Busuttil’s languidly funny interpretations contrasted with Dimech’s more histrionic and panicky characters while Galea tried playing it cool without ever forgetting the occasionally clumsy, gauche aspect of the portrayals he gave.
With slick timing and sharp dynamics, the show, in spite of being a sketch performance, came across as being very unified.
From personifying the penis as different character types based on celebrities, to the different ways in which they behave based on their owners’ lifestyles, the whole process of acquainting the audience with the realities of what might happen in a man’s nether regions was historically informative as well as entertaining.
Zahra’s knack for sharp one-liners coupled with throwaway lines was mastered by the three performers to the point of excellence.
Minn Wara ż-Żipp was fun and refreshing simply because it was unapologetically irreverent and made no excuses about it, taking on an honest attitude and resulting in a highly entertaining evening.
Andre Delicata, The Times of Malta, 29/10/14