Home » London Theatre Reviews » Sh!t Theatre’s Sh!t Actually at the Rose Theatre | Review

Sh!t Theatre’s Sh!t Actually at the Rose Theatre | Review

To the best of my recollection, I hadn’t revisited Love Actually since its initial cinema release in 2003 – indicative, perhaps, of the (not so) high regard I have for it – so I might as well have raised my arm in the air when a show of hands was asked for anyone in the audience who hadn’t seen it before. I had, but I don’t remember much of it, which in my book is more or less the same thing. Whatever your level of knowledge, however, there’s much to enjoy – especially if, as the show’s title suggests, you’re not a fan of the film, or indeed of the romantic comedy genre in general.

Sh!t Theatre's Sh!t ActuallyIt does, invariably, help to have some familiarity with the motion picture. For instance, the film’s epilogue is set in Heathrow Airport, and thus the lampooning of such a relatively unromantic place to revisit a series of love stories is all the more hilarious if one is able to make the connection between the film’s conclusion and the punchline. But, of course, it is rather ridiculous to consider Heathrow Airport a hotbed of romantic charm regardless, and the beauty of the production lies in its ability to keep the audience on the same page without either alienating newcomers or sending hardcore fans into the Land of Nod.

This being a Christmas show (well, I assume wishing the audience a ‘Merry Christmas’ on multiple occasions during the performance makes this a seasonal production) there was a degree of audience participation. Theatre patrons who don’t like this sort of thing are likely to be grateful, or at least relieved, that the ‘Covid-secure’ guidelines discourage or otherwise outrightly curtail some of what could have transpired. Call and response, for instance, is out – which, on a separate note, will make this year’s pantomime season an interesting experience – as is singing along to proceedings, even when the words are displayed on what was a heavily used screen.

Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole’s (re)interpretation of the ‘Bechdel test’ had me in stitches. Some jokes land better than others – I would imagine, in line with a lot of comedy shows, the audience responses are markedly different at every performance. Regular direct engagements with the audience helped to maintain interest, and the show proceeds briskly (70 minutes against Love Actually’s 136 minutes) with plenty of costume changes and actor-musicianship thrown in.

It’s not exactly family-friendly, with displays of flesh that would give Naked Boys Singing a run for its money. On the other hand, like that other show, there’s a fair amount of ‘body positivity’ going on – a celebration, if you will, of the human anatomy. The sense of humour in this production won’t appeal to all: some of it, frankly, is borderline crude. But there is some social commentary to ponder on too. One gets the feeling that Love Actually hasn’t aged all that well, particularly with regards to objectifying women.

Unapologetically radical, this amusing and delightfully irreverent production helps its audiences to see what has become a festive film favourite in a whole new light.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

A two-woman 100% faithful, word-by-word* remake of the Christmas film we all hate to love: ‘Love Actually’.

‘Love Actually’ is Sh!t Actually.

The ‘rising stars of performance art’ (Telegraph) Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole take on their hardest roles yet. All the roles. With live songs, queer love stories, and politics questioned by women with actual lines – come to this adults-only celebration of Christmas Actually.

From the makers of DollyWould, Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats and Sing-a-long-A-Muppet Christmas Carol.

Rose Theatre
Thu 3 Dec – Sat 5 Dec
https://www.rosetheatre.org/

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