Evita Too at Soho Theatre
There is something alluring about female duo Sh!t Theatre’s shocking new show, Evita Too. The pair glide onto the stage on rollerblades, almost naked, wearing nothing but stage mics and two untied sparkly dressing gowns. Their faces are covered in white clown make-up with faux wounds and gashes. One can’t help but stare. There is no pussyfooting here – we are shown pictures of a performer penetrating themselves on stage with a shoe, and taught about the many people who had varying degrees of necrophiliac relationships with Argentinian first lady Eva Perón’s corpse years after her death. It’s gasp-inducing theatre and not for the squeamish or prudish. While there is a lot of fun to be had with controversial theatre, it is tricky to get the balance right with biographies, especially when dealing with famously divisive political figures. Evita Too is a piece that rips away taboos and confidently declares its political agenda, but it is too heavy-handed in its dealings with nuanced political issues.
The show is a pastiche of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita, which follows the life of Eva Perón, wife of Argentinian military general Juan Perón, who served three political terms as president of Argentina between 1946 and 1974. Evita Too follows Perón’s second wife, Isabel Perón, who was Argentina’s first female president, and one of the first female republican heads of state in the world. Through silly songs, side gags and audience interaction, we gather together a picture of her life and Sh!t Theatre’s feminist political analysis of her story. The spectacle is far more compelling than the story itself. It is almost as though the production is not really about Isabel Perón, but rather a campaign for political populism; it feels like an allegory with an agenda, a bit like the comedies of Dario Fo or Gogol.
Unfortunately, as a political comedy, it is clumsy. The historical research is somewhat patchy, and viewers don’t get a sense of who the characters really are. Much more interesting is the visual comedy: Sh!t Theatre have a unique brand of performance art that uses holiday photos and slide shows in a really funny way. We are shown videos of confused Argentinian waiters but also a novelty Phantom of the Opera butt plug. The performers have a freedom and ease to them – their writing is conversational and on the nose, and all the jokes land because they simply voice what the audience are thinking.
It is a shame that the story itself is not fleshed-out – the actual plot could almost be done away with. Sh!t Theatre have created a strong and innovative brand of satirical comedy and it’s the fun facts, the tangents and the side gags that are most compelling, not the main story.
Evita Too is at Soho Theatre from 27th October until 15th October 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the show here: