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Sh!t Theatre: “Love Actually is our least favourite Christmas film - it’s also the inspiration for our latest show”

“We are bombarded every day with horrific news”, say Sh!t Theatre founders Becca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole. “We simply have to desensitise ourselves... but comedy opens us up. We are relieved to laugh and listen. Comedy’s the perfect opportunity to feed in some of that necessary and important news, information and horror. Just enough so it registers, sinks in. ‘Oh look. There is some slimy stuff on me. It has stained my Christmas jumper. I have taken note of that.’”

The housemate duo turned theatre company that call themselves Sh!t Theatre have built their reputation around employing dark comedy to address social injustices. Their Fringe triumph, Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats was daft and silly but at the same time ruminated hard on the migrant crisis.

And their new show, Sh!t Actually, which opens at the Camden People’s Theatre on December 3rd, sounds light-hearted but conforms to this similar format. Expecting a fun piss take about Love Actually? Well yep, you’ll get that: but this is also a thorough critique of a film the duo seriously hate. In our interview, Becca and Louise point out the problematic “misogyny, terrible script, jokes about transgender sex workers, the god-awful soundtrack, the sexualisation of a ten-year-old girl,” as some of the reasons their comedic cross-examination is necessary.

They insist this is “more of a silly entertainment show” than trad theatre. But from what we know of the company, they’re unlikely to leave their politics at the door…

Adam Bloodworth: Hiya Rebecca and Louise! You're parodying Love Actually with your new Christmas show, which you say everybody “hates to love”. Why do you reckon that is?

Becca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole: Well Adam, we think we know why people hate it: the misogyny, the terrible script, the jokes about transgender sex workers, the god-awful soundtrack, the sexualisation of a 10 year old girl, the body-shaming, the celebration of empty capitalism... But for some reason, people do love it. That’s the part we are struggling to figure out. We can only assume the people who love it, love to hate it or hate to love it.

Adam: Did you have to ask permission before you rolled with the idea? And if so, how did that conversation go?

Becca and Louise: The Camden People’s Theatre have tried to contact Working Title and at least warn them this is happening. We personally tried to contact Emma Thompson and tell her we love her but she hasn’t got back to us. Yet.

Adam: What are your memories of the ‘modern classic’?!

Becca and Louise: They hardly count as memories yet, as we have had to watch the film about twenty times over the last two months. Every year we usually tour the UK with the our sing-a-long-a version of the best Christmas film of all time, A Muppet Christmas Carol. We love that film. We have seen it hundreds of times now and are still not sick of it. It can still make us cry. We thought it only fair we give our least favourite Christmas film a look-in.

Adam: Christmas seems like a great time to get new audiences into the theatre. Are you hoping that'll be the case with this new show, given how popular the film is?

Becca and Louise: We genuinely love Christmas and Christmas shows and Christmas show audiences so yes, we hope some of our Muppets audience will come back for this show and hopefully we’ll also trick some more office parties in with the promise of free booze, gratuitous nudity and Keira Knightley. Good cheap trick huh?

Adam: Was there ever a fear that critics would see this idea as a cheap trick?

Becca and Louise: Oh you noticed! It is a cheap trick. Much like Bill Nighy’s character in the film, we are rehashing something people already know and love this Christmas.

Adam: Will the show feature your usual mix of songs and videos to tell the story?

Becca and Louise: Yes it will. There’ll also be some vagina hats and giant golden shits to look forward to.

Adam: You're celebrated for using relatable comedy as a way into tackling dark themes and social injustices. The two can seem like awkward bedfellows, so how do you make them fit so snugly together and work alongside each other? Do you find something funny and then work out a segway into a serious theme, or does your creative process vary?

Becca and Louise: We are bombarded every day with horrific news. At a certain point, we simply have to desensitise ourselves to all or most of it or we wouldn’t be able to drag ourselves through the day. All the information becomes a blur around us, or a bulbous, grotesque, jelly-like substance pushing against the windows - as one of the white male philosophers put it. Comedy opens us up. We are relieved to laugh and listen. It is the perfect opportunity to feed in some of that necessary and important news, information and horror. Through comedy we open our audience’s windows a crack, to allow some of that churning gelatinous blob in. Just enough so it registers, sinks in. ‘Oh look. There is some slimy stuff on me. It has stained my Christmas jumper. I have taken note of that.’

Becca and Louise: As for the second part of your question, we ALWAYS start with the serious. We are very serious.

Adam: We’re sensing sarcasm?! Anyway, moving on… You've received some amazing reviews. Time Out recently said of Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats that "Sh!t Theatre – have a habit of stumbling into situations where they would seem to be catastrophically out of their depth, only to emerge with work twice as profound and a kerjillion times funnier than that of their more sober peers." That's gotta feel good, right?

Becca and Louise: Yes it felt very nice, we respect Andzrej Lukowski, Time Out London’s theatre editor, and Time Out’s opinion very much.

Adam: You're touring that show far and wide in 2020. Are you excited, or do you get sick of the sight of each other?

Becca and Louise: Yes we do get sick of the sight of each other but this coming year we get to be sick of each other in Adelaide, Albuquerque, Portugal, Belgium and Argentina. Which we are totally cool and blasé about.

Adam: Do you write while you're on the road, and if so, do you have any new ideas buzzing around yet?

Becca and Louise: We are working on a new show called Evita Too, produced by Soho Theatre, which will premiere in 2021. We will be writing it on the road.

Sh!t Theatre
'Sh!t Actually'
03 - 21 Dec
at Camden People's Theatre
More info and tickets: www.cptheatre.co.uk