Extra time for popular football comedy | Steve Casaletto

Mostly Harmless Productions, in conjunction with Mellow Drama, will once again be taking Robert Farquhar’s football-referee-kidnapping comedy God’s Official to the Maltese stage. We speaks to actor Steve Casaletto about why they opted to bring the play back to Malta for its 10-year anniversary

The cast of God’s Official (from left): John Montanaro, Chris Dingli  and Steve Casaletto
The cast of God’s Official (from left): John Montanaro, Chris Dingli and Steve Casaletto

The play is being staged once again in Malta after 10 years. What led to this decision?
This has always been one of our favourite plays, as it is so well written and hits all the right notes. It is very funny but at the same time involves a lot of emotion for all three characters, from their interpersonal relationships to their history with their loved ones and what has made them what they are today. It really is a perfect mix of comedy and drama, and people who have watched it are always asking us when we are going to do it again. So when its anniversary came round it was an easy decision to take it out for a re-run.

Why would you say the play is such a good fit for Mostly Harmless/Mellow Drama?
We all believe in comedy first and of course this ticks that box but it’s also a production which we all love. To be honest it is probably our ‘perfect play’. Myself, John and James have always produced God’s Official as a team, so when the opportunity came up to take it out for another spin it made sense to keep that collaboration going.

What do you think makes this play an award-winning one?
The way the author brings all the situations to life using just three characters is fantastic. But he does so while giving you enough of their back story to be able to relate to them. And all this, while making the story hilariously funny. That it is an award winning play is in no way a surprise: anyone who has read it or seen it cannot but appreciate the genius of the author. In fact, they have just made a movie based on the play which is coming out in the UK this month. 

What would you say makes it appealing to a local audience?

The subject matter is completely universal – I’m talking beyond the football story line here which is of course global – but the emotions and the laughs are definitely something that we can relate to 100%. In our experience, people want to go to theatre to have a good time and have a good laugh, and this play certainly delivers that. As a bonus it also makes you think and share in the different emotions of the characters as they work through their ongoing disaster.

Do you think it will also appeal to non-football fans? Why?
The fact that it has a football related storyline is fun, but almost incidental. The farcical nature of the idea is great as a setting, but you don’t have to love football, or even like it to enjoy the play. Football is just another plot element really rather than a central character.

How would you describe the dynamic between the cast, and what makes them so right for their respective roles?
All of the cast have worked together for a long time, about 20 years on and off, so the chemistry and understanding between us is very good. John Montanaro is an excellent Degsy. He manages to get into the role despite being very different in “real life” as it where. John manages to be very convincing in what is a very challenging role as Degsy is a complex character who drags the rest of the characters along with him.

Chris Dingli is doing the play for the first time and is playing the referee – a physically demanding role as he has been kidnapped and spends most of his time tied up. Chris has done wonders bringing out the character in spite of these physical impairments.

Though he did mention that he has had to deal with much worse in movies in the past so he more than enough experience to cope. I have played the part of Cliff a few times now and still find new depths to him as a character. I must admit that this is fun role to play, as he really does change and evolve a great deal throughout the play.

Yet he still manages to come out smiling at the end of an ordeal he gets involved in by virtue of being best friends with the very disturbed Degsy. Of course the only way that this sort of production works is if the director manages to bring all the actors together and make them into a team, and James [Calvert] has done a great job, as always, in doing that. Not to mention his patience with us getting the lines and the characterisations just right to make the show a success.

How would you describe the theatre scene in Malta? What would you change about it?

The theatre scene has evolved a lot over the last few years, and now there are a lot of venues and theatre companies and the choice of plays to watch is growing all the time. I still feel that there is a lot more potential out there, if we can just get Maltese audiences to grow and make theatre-going a more regular pastime. Although the theatre-going public has grown over the last 20 years or so, I still think more people would love the experience if they just gave theatre more of a chance. Of course, as there are now a lot more options, punters need to be more choosy – there is literally something for everyone these days.

God’s Official is being staged at Blue Box Theatre, Msida on April 15, 16, 22, 23 at 20:00. Directed by James Calvert, the rest of the cast includes Chris Dingli and John Montanaro. Tickets are at €10 and €18. Bookings: www.bluebox.com.mt. The play is rated 16