There are probably few capital cities other than Malta’s Valletta in which, at 10.30 on a hot Saturday morning in July, you can bump into the Speaker of the House of Representatives, with his grandchild in tow, walking rather aimlessly. It turns out that we’re both looking for the troupe from Azar Teatro, Barroco-roll, in Republic Street, and they’re nowhere to be seen.
We eventually find them loafing around a police van at the top of South Street. And the kids gasp. There are six of them, with painted faces and costumes that shout ‘punk baroque’ in every colour of the rainbow. And just as we’re wondering what they’re doing pouting in front of a police van whose wheels are in need a of wash, a vehicle of sorts comes chugging down the road and the king and his driver sashay in, the rest start skating.
And so starts a journey of close to an hour. First haring behind a vehicle which is part duck, part throne, part keyboard – the kids running faster than any of us, up Melita Street, down Merchants Street – and then running in the slipstream of the two girls with their bodices and wide skirts, a guy who bears a vague resemblance to Gene Simmons in his Kiss heyday, another one with mournful eyes and a large hat. It’s like the Pied Piper all over again.
So it’s appropriate that the burlesque show should take place with the Courts in Republic street as a backdrop. The act’s a complete send up of authority and bella figura. I won’t give away the ‘story’. Suffice to say that there’s a happy mix of mock striptease, loud toilet humour, exploding cameras, swashbuckling swords to James Bond themes and a man in an orange wig playing air guitar. And yes, I was the unfortunate guy in the audience who was hauled out and picked on, and my nearly seven year-old later said he was getting worried that he might have had to intervene and save me from further humiliation.
If you want to get a taste of what went on, click here.
Check out Azar Teatro’s website here.
If you want to see more of what’s on in Malta Arts Festival, click here.
It’s great to see Valletta, as it waits for the Renzo Piano makeover to become reality, come alive to the sounds of kids’ screeches and belly laughter.
Photo: Alex Grech