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Dirty Dusting (Liverpool)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Royal Court Theatre

Where: Liverpool

Doing it for the girls - or I should say grannies - at Liverpool’s Royal Court, are actresses Clare Bowles, Eithne Browne and Pauline Daniels.

With duster in one hand and telephone in the other, the three ladies caused uproar amongst a full capacity auditorium as they brought their own comedy brilliance to a new production of Ed Waugh’s and Trevor Wood’s Dirty Dusting.

The Geordie playwrights have adapted their play and brought in suitable references to allow gags and side splitting one-liners to flow without disrupting its original comical effect.

Bowles, Daniels and Browne together have outstanding collaboration and timing on stage, playing the three office cleaners Gladys, Elsie and Olive respectively. The ladies set out to restore some pride in themselves now their jobs as cleaners are on the line with new and somewhat younger agency staff being lined up to replace them.

Alan Stocks is nasty and arrogant as their boss, Dave Smith, but his character struggles to have complete control over the three aging women – who all agree he’s really just a mum’s boy.

Liverpool favourite Daniels is confident and brash as Elsie, with Bowles introvert as Gladys until she brings her out of her shell, while Browne as Olive shows her character to be the dark horse amongst the pack.

In a move to bring in a little extra income, the ladies set up a phone sex line, calling themselves the ‘Telephone Belles’, and go under the disguises of Britney, Madonna and Marilyn.

Hilarious moments in this play include Daniels at one point, in reference to her age, dropping to her knees and screaming she hopes “to live until the end of the DFS sale” and her gag referring to a particular incident involving England footballer Wayne Rooney had the audience in fits of laughter.

However, scenes with Bowles dressed in Madonna costume in reference to her alter ego and Stocks being exposed as a regular user of the phone line, with ‘instruments’ such as a vacuum cleaner and Sooty glove puppet used to act out his fantasies, are just genius.

Dirty Dusting finished with the three grannies providing their own interpretations of songs affiliated to each of their chosen alter egos to yet more laughter followed by a standing ovation from the audience.

-Michael Hunt


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