They Blew Her Up, written by Times of Malta Editor in Chief Herman Grech, explores the murder of Malta’s leading investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. It was shown at Spazju Kreattiv with limited seating, but if an audience member wanted to see the play without the added risk that is the coronavirus pandemic, one could opt for watching the play online ( in light of recent restrictions, one can still do the latter until 21st March), streamed conveniently onto one’s laptop, and to be watched in the comfort of one’s home.
I chose the latter option. I first questioned my choice, as someone who has been craving the feeling of being in a theatre and watching a show for a year now, I didn’t think that this new medium we have had to adapt to would do the play justice. Having watched streamed versions of other productions during the pandemic, there was nothing quite like being in the room where it happened. To be connected with a cast as they take you through the story they want to tell. We all look for moments, to find that connection with the performance, which a laptop screen can prove to be a barrier for.
However, this, this was different. How can you not be connected to history you have seen unfolding before your eyes? In these past couple of years, which the play illustrates so vividly through its poignant writing, we have witnessed landmark events in our country’s story. Watching the clips that were interwoven throughout the dialogue brought back many a story and anecdote, many a discussion at the dinner table, as I am sure they did for many audience members.
This play took one through moments in time told by perspectives of five different individuals representing groups which all have had a pivotal role to play in this ongoing narrative. To maybe the exception of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Son, played by Joe Azzopardi, the other players could not be pinpointed to one particular character, but rather to multiple individuals, played by Kim Dalli, Charlotte Grech, Alan Paris and Jes Camilleri. There were no introductions, just 5 characters recalling the story from their different perspectives. I found myself questioning their roles in the beginning, then slowly came to the realisation that there was fluidity in their individuality.
Mostly composed of monologues, Mr Grech has truly managed to create a narrative that is interesting to listen to and flows from one intervention to the next. The level of research that obviously went into this piece (I would expect nothing less) is second to none. It explores the themes of corruption, politics, patriotism, journalistic integrity and protection, conspiracy theories and the black hole that is Maltese social media, nepotism and misogyny, all colossal issues in their own right, perfectly and thoughtfully hitting the nail on the head in just under an hour and thirty minutes. The characters are then seen interacting with each other towards the end of the play, fitting into each other’s narratives like clogs on a very rusty machine, as they all protected their own interest.
The one sensation I felt while watching this was discomfort. Sometimes I feel that the more we hear about this story, the Courts, the ongoing compilation of evidence, the gruesome accounts given, the twists and turns of the operation, pounding from every single news source, all the tweets: the more we listen and see, the more it has become a norm. Sometimes I find myself having no emotion to yet another liveblog in Court, until I snap myself out of it and punish myself for getting too comfortable. The tone set throughout this piece made sure of this.
We must do better. We must realise that this nation deserves better than what it is being dealt from either side. We must protect and applaud journalists asking hard hitting questions and that dig until it hurts. We must keep reaching out to the people who don’t care about this. We must keep having uncomfortable conversations with our peers. We must keep calling ourselves out on our own complacency.
Although this play’s scope was not to give an entirely factual representation of the sequence and emotions behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death, below one can find links to sources which can educate and give a clearer picture of the work being done to preserve Daphne’s legacy.
(All opinions shared are the author’s personal opinion)