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A dark and menacing comedy

The cast of Is-Serra.

The cast of Is-Serra.

Is-Serra, Teatru Malta’s latest production, revolves around one of Malta’s most heated current debates – mental health.

Originally penned by Harold Pinter in 1958 and titled The Hothouse, the script has been translated to Maltese by Simone Spiteri.

Theatre stalwart Victor Debono will take on the lead role of Roote, the mental institution’s undermined and disrespected director who has lost control of himself and the very institute he represents. Here, he shares some of his thoughts about the production.

“Roote’s character is a real puzzle. He has an institution to run but is not handling it well. We are unsure if his present comes with a dirty past or not.

The texture of the piece is very different in style from anything we have seen here for a while

“I would sum him up as a bit pompous and vain but fragile and insecure about his accomplishments. He is ready to pack it all in if he could. He, like many government workers, is tired.

“And, while he is a bigger-than-life character, we can all see a relative or somebody we know in him. He is the tired headmaster, the  autocratic parent… I view myself as a rather different personality to Roote. I usually try to keep calm and rational under pressure and am generally quite democratic in my way of thinking. Roote is the opposite in every way; logical thinking isn’t one of  his strong suits!

“The script is by no means an easy one to memorise and interpret. But I think that the Maltese language has brought it closer to our way of thinking and reacting to things.

“The characters’ relationships with each other are more relatable, for example, and the humour comes out better. I think Is-Serra will ring a familiar note to all those who have found themselves working in similar conditions.

“We see a group of people in a  rather bleak environment, smelling of high bureaucracy, where the status quo rules and there is  opposition to change in any form.

“The way the characters  react and behave towards one another is similar to many different forms of work environments  I have experienced – from school staff rooms to hospital wards, government offices, factories and so forth.

“Pinter is rather unique in his very dark humour and in the way he portrays the predicament of these characters running a mental home.

“The texture of the piece is very different in style  from anything we have seen here for a while.

“It can be very funny at times and yet it is bizarre and mysterious, with a couple of  plot twists along the way!”

Is-Serra runs between April 26 and 29 at 8pm at Mount Carmel Community Theatre, Attard.  Tickets are available online.

https://teatrumalta.org.mt/events/hot-house/

(Content provided by Teatru Malta)

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