Pleasure Little Treasure by Elina Alminas – known as Sasha from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – is an autobiographical account of growing up at the very first strip club in post-Soviet Estonia. She takes us through the struggles of post-Soviet states in the 90s from the shortage of consumer goods at the supermarkets, the rule of the Russian mafia and the introduction of post-Soviet countries to capitalism to patriarchy, toxic masculinity and growing up under the male gaze.
I highly enjoyed this play; it is dynamic, captivating and funny. Elina Alminas seems to have a talent for black comedy which she masterfully uses to talk about not just her own experiences but broader global themes including the experiences of post-Soviet countries and feminism. With the Russia-Ukraine war still raging on, this play takes us back to when independence came with the hope of a bright new future and was held at arm’s length by men.
The oppressive background voice of a man and the performance of the macho and lecherous man, Elon Must, as well as the commentary the choice of name for the character carries adds a social, creative and political depth to the feministic themes of the play.
While we hear Elina’s discovery of men through his dad who abandoned her and the men that frequented her grandmother’s strip club, we also hear about her fascination with women and their strength. She briefly mentions her attraction to both sexes, and the illegality of sex and being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community under USSR rule. This is a very interesting subject that I would have liked her to explore further. She calls the play a ‘work-in-progress’ so maybe this might become something she chooses to talk about more for later performances, who knows? I would very much like to see that.
With the use of multiple mediums from the light, sound, and TV screen to the on-stage costume changes, in addition to the humorous and energetic acting of Elina Alminas, the stage was kept lively throughout the whole hour of the show. One comment I would have about the technical side of the play is that the light-up logo of the club was too bright to the point that it was irritating to the eye, as well as a little bit distracting. Together with the TV, the rest of the stage was too dimmed that the actor had to be near the logo most of the time to be seen. While this worked to her advantage during costume changes, it limited her movements while acting.
I would highly recommend it and strongly believe that more people should be able to see it. I was lucky enough to see a first viewing of the play at Camden People’s Theatre where she performed just for a day. However, the good news is that Pleasure Little Treasure will be performed at Edinburgh Fringe every day between 3-13 August. If you can, definitely go see it. You can book your tickets here.