Is-Serra (The Hothouse), Teatru Malta’s production set to premiere in April, aspires to be the most topical black comedy of the year. Written in 1958, Harold Pinter’s menacing comedy, which deals with abuse in a mental health institution, remains very relevant and relatable even in Malta’s most heated current debates of today. The Hothouse is a curious piece that reminds of some recent stories emerging from some local Hospital’s cracks.

Victor Debono in the main role

Is-Serra sheds an uncomfortable light on the casual inhumanity and corruption that festers deep within the bureaucratic foundations of institutional authority. “In the last year, there have been a number of testimonies of stories that are taking place in the corridors of local hospitals. We chose this controversial work by Pinter because we believe it’s great theatre, but also to instigate a discussion about the subject.” says Sean Buhagiar, Teatru Malta’s artistic director.

The present production is part of The Classics Project, Teatru Malta’s long term initiative towards translating, producing and publishing a modern classic each year. This year they’ve chosen to focus on Harold Pinter in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of his death. With a superb translation by established playwright Simone Spiteri, the story is set in a state-run sanatorium, where the so-called “patients” are actual social dissidents receiving various excruciating corrective treatments. The Maltese translation works like a charm, making the characters sound all too familiar.

Teatru Malta has chosen to blend this classic piece with the Young Director’s. This way, Is-Serra will be directed by Teatru Malta’s young director for 2018, Andre’ Agius, through mentorship of renowned German professional theatre director Irene Christ, and staged at Mount Carmel’s very own community theatre.

The cast includes local stalwarts like Victor Debono, who needs very little introductions and will take on the lead role of Roote, the mental institutions undermined and disrespected director who has lost control of himself and the very institute he represents. Other lead roles, Gibbs, the ambitious and overachieving mental institution employee, will be played by Mark Mifsud, while Maria Buckle will take on the challenging role of the shrewd Miss Cutts. The cast features a number of theatre favourites like Joe Depasquale, Anthony Ellul, Benjamin Abela and Kurt Castillo.

The shows are on on the 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th of April, and 25% of all ticket sales of Is-Serra will also be donated to the Richmond Foundation. More information about tickets and showtimes is on the website or by telephone 21220255.