Dirty Dusting

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

04/07/2008 - 26/07/2008

Production Details

"Funny? Very definitely.  Some of the audience members were weeping with laughter and guffaws a-plenty echoed around the theatre.  Many rose to their feet as the cast took their curtain calls." – The British Theatre Guide

What’s the story?  

It’s about friendship.  It’s about solidarity. And it’s about sex.  Three old ladies are nearing the end of their working days, hastened on by a less than pleasant boss who reckons they all ought to be fired.  The women are getting a bit on in life to start fresh, but luck sends them a solution via a wrong number:  A bloke who thinks he’s called a sex line!

Hesitant at first, Olive, and Peggy are egged on by Elsie that they could make a lot of money.  So they take the leap and call themselves the "Telephone Belles" and that’s when the fun really begins.  

How good is it?
The show broke box office records when it was first performed in Newcastle.  Audiences in Glasgow and Edinburgh demanded another chance to see this laugh-a-minute look at sex and the over seventies.  The kind of show you can be 28 or 88 and still get it. 

Who wrote it?
Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood are comedic playwrights with an impressive list of hits including Waiting for Gateaux which the Fortune premiered in June 2006 and toured the same year.  And now we have the NZ premiere of Dirty Dusting.

Who’s the director?
Conrad Newport is our director.  He did a marvelous job on the world premiere of Who Needs Sleep Anyway by Roger Hall last year at the Fortune and in 2006 brought King and Country to Dunedin as part of the Arts Festival.  He’s very funny and very nice.

And the Cast…

Leading the cast as Elsie is experienced Melbourne actress, Maggie King.  She will be known to local audiences from her appearances on such popular Australian television productions as Sons and Daughters, Banjo Patterson’s The Man from Snowy River, Blue Heelers, Crackers, The Saddle Club and MDA.

Shirley Kelly plays Olive.  She has been a familiar face on the Dunedin professional stage since the 1960s when she appeared in many productions by the Fortune’s predecessors, the Southern Comedy Players and the Southern Theatre Trust.  She made her Fortune debut in the company’s opening production, Blue Comedy and appeared in a number of popular productions through the Fortune’s first two decades such as Nunsense, Social Climbers and her solo show A Place on Earth.  She was last seen at the Fortune in the world premiere production of Roger Hall’s Taking Off in 2005.  She has worked regularly at Palmerston North’s Centrepoint Theatre where she has created roles in a number of the plays written there by Alison Quigan such as Shop Till You Drop, The Big O.E. and Netballers.  As its thirty fifth anniversary year approaches, the Fortune is delighted to welcome Shirley back to Dunedin.

Lyn Jordan will be our Gladys. She is an Auckland based actress who appeared in Xena Warrior Princess and the film Her Majesty.

Andrew Monro trained in Dunedin at the Otago Institute of TV, Theatre and Radio.  He appeared at the Globe in Richard III and The Cherry Orchard, hosted Cow TV on Channel 9 and was in the films Scarfies, Lord of the Rings and Twisted.  Now based in Auckland he has recently acted there in the Basement Theatre production of The Woods and appeared on television in Shortland Street and The Strip. He’ll be the cleaning ladies’ boss, Dave.

The set for the Fortune Theatre production of Dirty Dusting will be designed by Matt Best, with costumes designed by our valuable and versatile Wardrobe Designer, Maryanne Wright-Smyth.

BOX OFFICE: 477 8323
Or online at Fortune’s website
NZ Premiere Dirty Dusting
July 4 to July 26. 

The popular ‘home early’ winter scheduling means
Tuesday performances at 6pm,
Wednesday to Friday shows at 7pm,
Saturdays at 8pm and
Sunday matinees at 4pm.

Dirty, dusty – and funny

Review by Barbara Frame 09th Jul 2008

What a crowd-pleaser. The theatre was packed, and people were laughing themselves silly. Dirty Dusting, by British playwrights Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, has clearly clicked with local audiences.

Elsie (Maggie King), Olive (Shirley Kelly) and Gladys (Lyn Jordan) are about to be sacked from their cleaning jobs by their nasty, slimy boss Dave (Andrew Munro), and replaced with younger, lower-paid ”environmental hygiene operatives”.

But the septuagenarians fight back, devising a way to use the office they are supposed to be cleaning as the headquarters for a lucrative phone-sex operation. The jokes come thick and fast (sorry, but double-entendres are catching), which is just as well because most of
them are warmed-up old ones, smutty and not terribly clever.

Luckily, the show is saved from complete banality when a very funny sub-plot involving a common household appliance livens things up towards the end.

Parts for older women players are not plentiful and the three actresses have clearly taken to their roles with a glee that is communicated to the audience.

Director Conrad Newport keeps things moving at the cracking pace this kind of comedy requires, Matt Best’s set design has produced a very recognisable modern office, and Maryanne Wright Smyth’s costumes are – well – a bit of a hoot.

So, it’s quick and dirty, with not a lot of substance and not very much dusting either, but there are enough undemanding laughs to brighten up a wintry night.   
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Celebrating the gutsy charm of older women

Review by Terry MacTavish 07th Jul 2008

Three cleaning ladies in their 70s, about to be made redundant, decide to compensate themselves by setting up a sex phone line from the office they are meant to be cleaning…This is certainly not a play that demands thoughtful analysis; a lick and a promise should do (which is pretty much the way Gladys cleans the office phones – take your own Wet Ones on Monday).

That the Fortune’s production of this UK hit succeeds in being more than briefly amusing one-liners and unsubtle sexual innuendo, is due to the cheerful expertise of the actors, who make us care about Olive, Elsie, and Gladys, and even the love-to-hate character of their sleazy supervisor, Dave.

Shirley Kelly, in a most welcome return to the Fortune, is delicious as the former strait-laced guide leader Olive, who has a touching sexual secret of her own, while Maggie King breathes hearty life into the more worldly-wise Elsie. As the slightly simple Gladys, Lyn Jordan provides us with one of the comic highlights: her tipsy entry as Madonna, singing ‘Like a Virgin’ in an outrageous cone-bra.

Andrew Munro, gorgeously slimy as their cocky young boss, makes the most of the other bravura moment, when he erupts on stage displaying the hideous consequences of attempting a sexual act with a temperamental vacuum cleaner. Together the four, directed by Conrad Newport, make up a polished and sparkling team.

It is generally a safe comedic ploy to reverse ageist stereotypes, viz all those TV ads where frail grannies kick butt; and the audience of mostly grey-haired ladies certainly relished the sight of cosy geriatrics talking dirty, gaining strength from each other, and finally taking gleeful revenge on their despicable boss.

While hardly breaking new ground – that geriatrics enjoy sex is now almost as much of a cliche as that they are past it – it is nevertheless cheering to see a play unashamedly celebrating the gutsy charm of older women, and providing roles for mature actresses in the process. So I’ll sweep under the carpet some scruples about phone-clients who molest hamsters, and focus on the likeable characters, the assured acting, and the very real pleasure of the audience on a snowy Sunday afternoon.


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