As in: Evita was also there. The second wife of the Argentinian president Juan Perón, Eva, was immortalised in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1978 musical, Evita. But Isabel, Perón’s third wife and his successor as president of Argentina, has been largely relegated to a footnote in history. In Evita Too, a wonderfully chaotic exploration of power and populism told through an underfunded DIY mega-musical, Sh!t Theatre focus their attention on the curious figure of Isabel and her extraordinary role as one of the world’s first female presidents.
The eccentric story of this near-forgotten leader, who was made president upon her husband’s death and after only 21 months was overthrown by a military coup and placed under house arrest, would be fascinating in any form. But in the unruly hands of Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit, the tale of Isabel Perón crackles into a hilarious, sinister, hectic ride, as they mine comedy from tragedy and discos from death squads.
Sh!t Theatre are adept at drawing their own lives into the tales they are telling. Their previous shows have included explorations of Dolly Parton, the housing crisis and the corruption of the Maltese government, linking these with their own relationships, health and experiences of instability in the arts.
Here, they are characteristically brazen and vulnerable, weaving Perón’s story into the ethics of populism, government control of women’s bodies, the revision of history, and their own uncertainties about parenthood. Alongside their boisterousness and dancehall duets, they delicately capture darkness, profundity and loss, both personally and across an entire nation.
Yet few companies make shows that are so consistently, outrageously fun. There is a certain formula to their performances – a designed haphazardness – but the depth of their humour and the unusual nature of their research make you want to follow them down any rabbit hole they choose.
Here, Biscuit and Mothersole create a gorgeously disordered patchwork, somehow pulling together pickled corpses, a military coup, a plea to the Arts Council and the uncanny dance moves of Andrew Lloyd Webber. It may not be slick in the slightest, but with Evita Too, the Sh!ts are proving themselves to be an unlikely pair of state-of-the-nation playwrights.
• Until 15 October.