TEN Humans Telling Stories in Virtuous and Sinful Ways, inspired by Bocaccio’s Decameron, is the first live theatrical production to be held in the Manoel Theatre since the initial Covid-19 lockdown began. It took place from Thursday 12th November till 15th November 2020.
The show took the form of a promenade performance, in which groups of 6 were told 10 different stories as they made their way around the theatre. Each story was told by separate performers using a variety of methods including monologues, dance and original music. However, each performer had one of two stories to tell of which the groups could only observe one, meaning that each had a different experience to the others, therefore, in this review I can only speak to my experience.
The word I would use to describe this performance is fun. The stories did not connect narratively but rather each presented a short and complete tale. While not all, most of the performances had a comedic element to them, if not completely comedic in nature. Although subsequently the non-comedic sections slightly stood out in tone, the overall atmosphere created was one of fun and curiosity as to what will come next. Each performance was different, making for a good variety and while a couple of the pieces presented felt like they could have been developed further with more time, this production was filled with great performances under the direction of Chris Gatt and Andre Agius, with those of Malcolm Galea, Tina Rizzo and especially Paul Portelli particularly being highlights of this show. The show concluded with all the groups being sat socially distanced in the theatre stalls and all the performers coming together on stage in a choreographed physical piece which made the connection between the Great Plague of the 14th century, in which the original book is set, and the Covid-19 pandemic we are currently experiencing, concluding with a striking imagine for the audience to digest.
Personally, I find this decision to conclude on stage to be the best directorial decision taken in this production. This allowed the performance to use the excitement of finally being able to see a piece of theatre in the grandeur of the national theatre for the first time in so many months to their advantage.
It is so great to finally be able to see a piece of live theatre after so long and I am delighted to have started off again with this show which not only took what others would perceive as limitations and used them to their advantage but also managed to have a fun production on top of it. I enjoyed this production so much that my cheeks were genuinely hurting because I was smiling and laughing throughout. Consequently, I would like to congratulate Teatru Manoel, Chris Gatt and Andre Agius and all the performers involved for finally providing a fun evening of live theatre after so long.