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  • Xi Ye

Review - Blanket Ban

Updated: May 11, 2023

Southwark Playhouse - Borough

Playing until 20th May 2023


Davinia Hamilton and Marta Vella

Directors and Producers

Sam Edmunds and Vikesh Godhwani

Review {Gifted - PR invite}

First published in Everything Theatre

A reflection of true stories that continue to take place in Malta, Blanket Ban is a play about the Maltese’s admiration for their tradition, history and culture, and their anger toward the ban on abortion. Writers and performers Davinia Hamilton and Marta Vella paint a vivid picture of the pain inflicted on thousands of women affected by Maltese law and misogyny.

This production brings many issues into the spotlight and made me question my ignorance on a problem that has inflicted pain on so many women. While many may be aware that abortion is illegal in Malta, I suspect few know the extent of this problem. The audience is told that the ban is truly a blanket ban, without exception to the rule, however dire the situation. One particularly daunting story includes descriptions of a woman being forced to continue with a pregnancy when the foetus has no chance of surviving at birth and is harming the health of the mother. The audience is told that, provided the foetus has a heartbeat, the pregnancy cannot be terminated, regardless of the viability of the foetus or the negative impact it has on the mother. In addition to a retelling of these women’s stories, Blanket Ban also tells of Hamilton and Vella’s journey creating this piece of work and their inner conflict between love and disgust for their home country.

Bringing together materials and snippets of real-life stories and interviews, Hamilton and Vella have created a powerful narrative that evokes anger, disgust and also reflects on the tricky political situation. In most scenes, a short recording of an interview with real-life women affected is played and the remaining dialogue or story acted out by the performers. Using this dynamic portrayal of the women’s stories, the production continually emphasises the real-world impact of these stories, resulting in a highly impactful performance.

Throughout the play, bright vivid colours are used to depict the sun, the sea and the glamour of Malta, ways in which visitors may envision this beautiful Mediterranean island. Furthermore, the writers don’t shy away from the fact that despite the atrocious acts on women, they still share a deep love for the island’s rich history and the kindness of its locals. The actors are passionate about the pro-choice cause, however at times the heated arguments between the two are difficult to hear or comprehend. This could perhaps benefit from a milder or more enunciated delivery.

This politically pertinent piece of theatre opens the discussion on challenges faced by women in a place which many consider to be a paradise. It highlights that beneath the clear blue and balmy seas of Malta, there remain acts of atrocity toward women and significant efforts are still needed in the fight for the rights of those affected by the blanket ban on abortion.

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