Dirty Dusting is the type of play you take your Mum along to. And then, while she laughs her head off at every single joke you sit there mortified, thinking: “But how does she know what a golden shower is???”
Yes, there is a mention of that sexual act in this play about cleaning women turned phone sex workers. There’s also talk of hamsters, g-strings, whipped cream, thigh-high boots and unspeakable acts with household appliances. And all the talking is being done by women who, to use their term, are “of a certain vintage”.
Lovingly directed by Helen Ellis, the story revolves around three “over the hill” cleaning ladies (their words, not mine) who discover that they’re about to be made redundant from their jobs at a huge, faceless corporation. After a case of mistaken telephone numbers and some accidental dirty talking, they decide to get their revenge by setting up a phone sex business in the office they’re supposed to be cleaning and spending their last weekend on the job raking in some fast cash.
This storyline allows ample opportunity for puns, innuendo and witty banter, and Ellis makes sure her three leading ladies (Maggie King, Joan Sydney and Anne Phelan) don’t miss a beat. Their comic timing is impeccable, their banter is wonderful and they are so natural together on stage.
These are three consummate actors, and their skill helps to lend the play a deeper poignancy. Because underneath all the frivolity, Ellis wants you to recognise that once they reach that certain age, older women are often ignored, pushed aside and considered “dried up”. Luckily, Ellis’s wonderful direction and the skill of the three leads means this play is, in the end, a celebration of older women as sexual human beings: still ready and willing to desire, to want, to play and to fight (and talk) dirty. Judging by the joyful reactions of women in the audience, Dirty Dusting is thoroughly relevant, hilarious and very uplifting.
So, get over your embarrassment, take your Mum, and be proud when she laughs out loud. After all, she could probably teach you a thing or two.
QUT Gardens Theatre and Ellis Productions present
Director Helen Ellis
Venue: Gardens Theatre | 2 George Street, Brisbane
Dates: 29 - 31 March, 2010
Matinee: 2pm Wednesday 31 March
Tickets: Adult $38, Concession $30