Review: Blanket Ban

An infectious activism on abortion rights

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 11 Aug 2022
33435 large
Fest magazine

With the recent fall of Roe vs Wade still fresh, it's easy to overlook places closer to home that restrict abortion rights. In the EU, there's only one country that bans the medical procedure with no exceptions – Malta. With this show, London-based Maltese theatremakers Davinia Hamilton and Marta Vella aim to raise awareness of the lack of reproductive healthcare, encourage engagement with the pro-choice movement, and share their affection for their home nation. 

The research and development process included interviews with pro-choice activists, people in Malta who have had illegal abortions and those who were denied appropriate reproductive care in the country. Extracts of these verbatim testimonies make up most of the script. The audience meets a small selection of the interviewees through Hamilton and Vella's embodiment of them, whilst others are clips of Zoom interviews.

In between these stories there are performative explanations about Malta's culture, such as its deeply-held Catholicism and lack of comprehensive sex education. There are also more abstract sequences, such as those about Maltese people's relationship with the sea. Though these are dynamic and vary the performance style, they don't always gel with the rest of the material. The overall effect is one of a collage of different experiences and conflicting feelings. Hamilton and Vella boil with rage and love, two emotions that aren't known for being tidy – and this show captures that. Though it's often messy and fragmented, their infectious activism and pride help hold it together.