ComedyDramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

Dirty Dusting – Whitley Bay Playhouse

Reviewer: Stephen Mark Stokoe

Writers: Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood

Director: Leah Bell

Dirty Dusting is a hilarious comedy set in a multi-storey office block and concerns three older lady cleaners who work there. There is a camaraderie and back story to each of these ladies from the outset and the initial conversations between the three sets the tone for the evening ahead. One of the cleaners spots a memo suggesting they are all to be made redundant in a restructuring exercise on the part of the business. They decide to set up their own sex chat line to make some additional money before they believe that the inevitable will happen.

Elsie (Crissy Rock) is a brash no-nonsense gal with a strong Liverpudlian accent having left Newcastle for Merseyside some time previously but returned to her native North East to be reunited in employment with her good friend, Gladys. Gladys (Leah Bell) is a Geordie lass through and through and married. She has a long time love of amateur dramatics although recently her group has “all gone wrong” since she is now only cast in old woman roles. Making up the three is Olive (Dolores Poretta) a more aloof character and a former stalwart of the Girl Guides.

Rock provides a believable and sympathetic character as Elsie. She is clearly a leader and nudges the others to come together with some fantastic one liners and visual comedy. Olive, the more gentle and matronly of the trio, keeps the others in check as the situations become more and more risqué. Poretta is commanding in her interpretation and offers a gentle warmth following her more stern initial entrance.

The star billing goes to Gladys, who matures throughout the play from a person unwilling to get involved to being head girl and chief protagonist by the end. Bell delivers a rounded and effervescent character who warms the hearts of the audience right from the start.

The villain of the piece is supplied by the sycophantic and obnoxious, David, played with great presence by newcomer Andrew Green. David, line manager to the cleaners, does not appear much but the audience certainly knows about him when he makes an entrance. He is smarmy and insecure and Green conveys this effectively; no mean feat when placed against the other three formidable characters.

The action takes place over a whole weekend and in the same location so the set is static and portrays what you would expect an office of the eighties to look like replete with large computer screens and dial telephones. The musical choices refer to the days of the weekend in which the action in each segment is set and is intuitive and clever in this regard.

The thing that makes Dirty Dusting so enjoyable is in no small part down to the audience. On this, the final performance of the current tour, the theatre was almost at capacity and everyone was there for a good time. The camaraderie so deftly characterised by the cleaning ladies and the script along with an audience wanting and willing to travel the journey with them makes for a wonderful evening full of whimsical memory, some very naughty innuendo and a most satisfying conclusion. You will never look at sherbet lemons in the same way again.

Reviewed on: 26 January 2020

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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