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Dirty Laundry
Published on Thursday, 08 August 2013

4 stars

Underbelly, Cowgate (venue website)
1-12, 14-25 Aug, 9:25pm-10:25pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

Having had a few beers with a friend beforehand, I was unashamedly thrilled when I heard the strains of trashy eighties and nineties pop music emanating from the Underbelly. There's nothing to hype you up for a show more than some cracking tunes. Featuring Celine Dion, Blondie and Bonnie Tyler, Dirty Laundry is one for anyone that loves a good dose of nostalgia. But it's not all fun and games! It’s is a surprisingly dark and deeply weird comedy, that leaves you completely unsure whether to laugh or scream.

Dirty Laundry is the story of local gossip-monger Esther, who spends her days working at a laundromat and looking through people's washing for any news she can find. She attempts to single-handedly solve a police case, leading to dark consequences. Around this concept, Rachel Hirons has written a spectacularly funny show with a brilliant plot twist that, judging by audience reaction, no-one saw coming at all. And I'm definitely not going to spoil it for you here; it's brilliant Fringe theatre.

Considering the aforementioned musical stylings of this show, the production is actually rather understated, at times jarringly so. The blaring music before and after the show is barely found during the performance; it's a one-set play with only three actors, and all of whom do a superb job in their respective parts. All the characters are familiar, in a small-town way – and all are endearing because of it.

Despite the excellent comedic stylings of the script and the cast themselves, at times the audience seemed unsure whether or not to laugh. Occasionally this made things a little uncomfortable, and I think it has a lot to do with expectations rather than the show itself. I think many people, myself included, anticipated an airy soap opera drama, and were perhaps too unprepared for where the show actually leads. I happened to love it personally, but I have to warn you that it won't be everyone's cup of tea.

Dirty Laundry is an outstanding, well-paced dark comedy. If you're a fan of the genre, you'll have a blast; go in with an open mind and prepared to laugh unashamedly. Without spoiling any major plot points, I can't summarise this show any better than it does itself in the first five minutes: you'll know exactly what you're in for when the presence of police cars outside the laundromat is met with a sign telling the customers not to engage in sexual relations with the machines. If nothing else, you'll get a couple of dances to Bonnie Tyler – and a fabulous topic of conversation for the night!

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