REVIEW: Dirty, Colchester Fringe Festival ✭✭✭✭

Paul T Davies reviews Dirty presented as part of the Colchester Fringe Festival.

Colchester Fringe

Mercury Theatre, Colchester Fringe Festival
19 October 2023
4 Stars
Colchester Fringe Festival Website

Today, as you read this, women are working in a commercial laundry, exploited, no freedom, struggling to pay back huge debts, no passport, no YD, no escape from the gang masters that hold them captive. Dirty is the story of three of them trapped in this situation. Han Morgan’s excellent play is a classic pressure cooker script, the tension increasing throughout it’s running time, performed by a strong cast.

Dawn is the new recruit, still with spirit and some fight left in her, Megan Sharman capturing this perfectly, as well as the desperateness of her situation. Fighting to bring up her younger sister, Erin, a fiery character portrayed with exuberant defiance by Eva Balding, who is seduced into working with them as she hates school and is bullied for being poor. Polish Monika, the excellent Rebecca Brudner, works believing her wages are being sent home to her parents in Poland, of course, they are not. Sara Jane Derrick brings much-needed light relief into the play as fantasist Tracy, her denial running many layers deep. Overseeing them all is Szef, a truly chilling performance by Chris Smith, threat always walking onto the stage with him.

Director Richard Bland paces the show beautifully, allowing moments for the play to breathe as well as racking up the tension. The dynamic and camaraderie between the women is beautifully convincing, and the metaphor of the bear and the mice is played well, building up the tension. This is the first production by Little Vagabond, and I certainly hope to see more from this talented company.

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