Premiered at St. James Cavalier Centre of Creativity on 4th March 2016
Directed by Tyrone Grima
Andrea, nurse: Roberta Briffa
Jeremy, nursing aide: Andre Mangion
Lina, elderly woman: Leigh Anne Abela
Mena, elderly woman: Ninette Micallef
Gerit, elderly woman: Theresa Gauci
Ġużeppa, elderly woman: Lilian Pace Vassallo
Maurice, Ġużeppa’s son: Charles Sammut
Mela hawn xi manikomju?
This rollicking, boisterous, irreverent, dead honest play gives the one-fingered salute to society’s expectations of how old people should behave.
The four elderly characters in the room of a Maltese geriatric ward where Alfred Buttigieg sets his new play, ‘Mela Hawn Xi Manikomju?’ (You Thought This Was A Madhouse?’) have no intention of going gently into that good night. These old women are no wise, sweet, kindly, rosary-bead-fingering, moralising bunch who spend most of their time praying and reminiscing.
The flamboyant, vitriol-tongued Lina rages at her inability to walk. She is dependent on the nursing aide, Jeremy for her one remaining pleasure in life, smoking, and alternates toadies to him and insults him. Gerit’s resentment at her body’s frailty is conveyed in absurd demands and very vocal complaints against the nurses, the hospital and the state. But she also rages against death, time and loss, as her confused mind grieves anew for the mother she lost decades ago. Abandoned by her family, Mena escapes her predicament through dementia, eternally packing her little suitcase in readiness for the relatives who will never come for her. Guzeppa, on the other hand, tries to face up to reality and make a confession to her son Maurice to mend the mistakes of the past. In the middle of it all, the nurse and nursing aide try to keep up with all four patients, soothing them as best they can.
This wildly funny, no-holds-barred play holds up the mirror to a neglected area in Maltese society and Maltese theatre, extreme old age. It is full of bawdy humour, but there are several moments of poetry and pathos as it invites the audience to contemplate human beings’ experience of homesickness, grief, unfreedom, abandonment, betrayal, loneliness, the body’s frailties, memory and death.
Mela hawn xi manikomju programme – click to view pdf
An insightful portrayal of the elderly – click to view pdf
Review: Screaming silently for help