From bawdy jokes to hilariously current songs, as Jo Caruana discovers, Dingle Bells, Malcolm Smells promises to provide the perfect adult entertainment this Christmas.
It’s just after Christmas and a theatre packed full of people is eagerly awaiting curtain up. Suddenly, it all begins – songs, speeches, games and, if you squint, dance… and it’s absolutely hilarious.
We didn’t have time to write a show, so we ended up improvising instead
Now in its second year, Dingle Bells, Malcolm Smells is a comedy featuring Malcolm Galea and Chris Dingli, and directed by Wesley Ellul. It’s an interactive experience – each night audience members shout out suggestions and the dynamic duo turn them into a story.
“Last year saw us taking on various fairy tales, but personal issues got in the way of things and well, you had to be there,” grins Dingli, recalling the mayhem of the 2010 production that managed to pack St James’ theatre night after night.
“It’s a really funny show. I’m generally very good at keeping a straight face, but I have never struggled so hard not to laugh on stage as I have in this show. As it’s improvised, we find the jokes as funny as the audience does, except that we’re supposed to keep on acting. It’s a super fun show to be in and (judging by last year’s audiences’ reaction) it’s also super fun to watch.”
Compared to the other Christmas shows, this one is most original in its format. There’s no script, so Dingli and Galea make it all up on the night (except for a few songs). As there’s no saying what can happen, it’s certified 18, which makes it a show strict-ly for adults. In fact, they describe it as an adult alternative to the well-known Christmas pantomimes.
As for their inspiration, they are generally inspired by the wish to make people laugh; the urge to challenge themselves and most importantly, meet looming deadlines.
As Dingli explains, the success of last year’s show was a bit of a surprise to all of them: “We hadn’t planned on performing an improvised comedy. We had originally wanted to perform an original scripted play. But we didn’t have time to write one, so we ended up improvising instead.
“To our enormous relief, we discovered audiences loved the idea, we were good at it and we loved working like that. We enjoyed it so much we immediately decided to do it all again this year, but better.”
This year, everything should be new. Each show will be really, truly unique to that night’s audience, so they will be the only people in the world to have watched and contributed to the production of whatever the title of that night’s show will be.
Meanwhile, the creative process that leads towards it is great fun for them.
“We talk a lot and do nothing for nine months (or longer). Then we meet up, eat pizza and talk. We do some silly things, tell stories, chat, watch Youtube videos and goof around. Then we eat more pizza and drink some beer. Finally when we’re too ashamed to admit we’ve spent so much time doing nothing, we get down to working on the show.
Naturally, the fact the men are all extremely good friends is the glue that binds the whole show together. “Malcolm and I know each other very well and that is invaluable. At times we can read each other’s minds, or, if we can’t, we can trust the other to lead us somewhere funny.
“Meanwhile, Wesley is the perfect director for us because he operates entirely on the same wavelength. In fact, many times it’s up to us to reel him in when he goes off on some highly improbable tangent in the gaseous evening realm.”
And so it seems that the magic of friendship combines to create the magic of theatre.
And those interested in getting in on the action should do so fast, as last year’s tickets sold out well before opening night.
Dingle Bells, Malcolm Smells opens tomorrow at St James Cavalier, Valletta, with shows until Friday and on January 2.
Tickets from www.sjcav.org, 2122 3200 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a sneak peak of the mayhem, visit www.theatregonewrong.com.
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