Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood
Derby Assembly Rooms and touring
It's three years since Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood swept all before them with Dirty Dusting, a comedy about OAP cleaners who set up a phone sex service when their bosses want to replace them with younger employees. The play broke box-office records when it was first produced in the North East. Now it's cleaning up on a national tour.
A different cast has been taken on to portray the trio of septuagenarians who decide to take revenge by going into the telephone sex business and talking dirty instead of cleaning dirty offices.
The script has been changed slightly, with a few lines tailored to the local venue. There's a smattering of old gags as well as new ones. One of the women, who finds that she can get endless packets of condoms free from a machine in the gents' toilet, remarks, "I feel like a vegetarian looking in a butcher's shop!"
It may be stretching the imagination to believe that the three actresses in the show are over 70. Juliette Kaplan (Pearl from Last of the Summer Wine) shines as Olive the former Girl Guide leader, Kim Hartman (Helga in 'Allo 'Allo) is ideally cast as Elsie who inspires the rebellion and Sue Hodge (Mimi in 'Allo 'Allo ) nearly steals the show as Gladys who really gets into the swing as a sex counsellor. All are impeccable in their timing and wring out every possible laugh from the script.
Dirty Dusting is rude, occasionally crude and full of double entendres. Some of the audience howled with delight; others were left a little cold although they must have known what they were letting themselves in for when they booked their tickets.
Some of the humour and the plot lines are really contrived. You have to feel sorry for the only man in the play, Dean Gaffney, who doesn't really get the opportunity or the lines to come over convincingly as evil boss Dave. In the end, though, he gets laughs when his secret obsessions are laid bare for everyone to see.
The title of this play tells you everything you want to know about it. It's light on subtlety but strong on laughs.
"Dirty Dusting" runs at Derby Assembly Rooms until June 10th, then tours to Liverpool Empire; Palace Theatre, Manchester; Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham; and the Lyceum, Sheffield
Reviewer: Steve Orme