Riddiford Laundrette, Wellington

22/02/2006 - 26/03/2006

NZ Fringe Festival 2006

Production Details

devised by Almost A Bird Collective
directed by Willem Wassenaar

Almost A Bird Collective

Theatre goes commando as four remarkable people love, rage, mourn, dream and wash their undies. Returning from its ’05 sell out season, Delicates takes place in a real, working laundrette … Bring a pair of underwear to be washed.

Matt Whelan
Dan Musgrove
Colleen Davis
Sophie Roberts

Theatre ,

1 hr 20 min, no interval

Rich mix in powerful spin

Review by John Smythe 24th Feb 2006

The idea of washing your privates in public is the starting point of this site-specific piece. Indeed the audience is asked to drop their own knickers (brought separately for the purpose) into the mix for a free agitate and tumble.

As a title Delicates is mostly ironic because the style is often quite broad and what is revealed of the four basket-case characters is most indelicate at times. And yet there is a delicate touch in the play’s crafting. Subtlety permeates the mix and compassion drives its spin on life.

The secret dream of the laundrette’s gawky owner, Darsy (Matt Whelan), is to sell up and become a full-time painter. His all-too-regular customer Glenn (Dan Musgrove) is an out-of-work primary school teacher who seems nice enough until his control-freak bully-boy tendencies come to the fore.

More than a match for him when it comes to public humiliation, both of herself and Glenn, is Lucy (Colleen Davis), who only once lets slip the zip that hides her dark past. The rest of the time, sadly unable to break the cycle of abuse that has seen her thrown out of a car and into the laundrette by her thug of a boyfriend, she uses sex and sex-talk as weapons.

Quiet and timid, preferring her thick volume of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to the real world her laundry needs have obliged her to step into, is Molly (Sophie Roberts). Because her secrets, desires and hidden talents take the longest to come out, like stubborn stains, she becomes the most captivating character. And captivated.

All four are powerfully realised, doing whatever they feel they need to, to stay afloat in the emotional whirlpool of life. In the process Darsy, Glen, Lucy and Molly experience full cycles of emotion although when Molly gets upset she internalises it, fixating on Alice’s fear she will drown in a pool of her own tears.

While all the hang-ups, desires, self-defeating behaviours and break-through moments to new possibilities are instantly recognisable, nothing is predictable in this production. And every part has value. Tenderness vies with viciousness, non-verbal expressionism vies with a raucous rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, isolation vies with community as the most compelling part of a richly rendered whole.

Created last year by students who are now in their second year at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School – including director Willem Wassenar (a recent immigrant from Holland) – Delicates embodies the core values of Fringe theatre despite being located at its geographical fringe (in Newtown).

The one thing it needs is a bigger venue so more than a handful of people can see it at any one time.


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