Theatre in a site specific location is a rare experience even for the avid theatre-goer. Opportunities are few and far between – particularly for high quality, professional productions.
Dirty Laundry is a new play from Deborah McAndrew, a playwright who is ever growing in her popularity. Inspired by her local area and the real issues from the not too distant past, she has created a piece which is not only a thoroughly entertaining story but also explores industry’s effect on the environment and the people within it.
Set in the 1950’s in the heart of the ceramic industry, it seems fitting that the play is performed in one of the major local factory buildings of that era. For the first part, the audience is guided through the cobbled streets of the old factory grounds – meeting characters in their environment. Clever use of outbuildings (and a beautiful car) form the neighbourhood and an immersive introduction to the era.
You are then led into a characters house, entering through their living room and into an auditorium that has been setup within what would have been the factory floor of the time.
With some era-appropriate comedy the audience is introduced to the situation in hand. Reuben Moth is dying from an industry related disease and his daughter, who also works on the pot banks, realises quickly that his mind is not at peace. He’s having nightmares, as if haunted by a secret – and suddenly a factory boss and the local councillor have taken a suspiciously keen interest in his well-being.
A professional cast of five (and the early scenes supported by Claybody’s Community Company) is led strongly by Rosie Abraham in the leading role of Nora who captures the strong character of a local girl well. Angela Bain is perfect in the role of “Frances Berry” both with her comedy timing and her general characterisation of the interfering neighbour.
Jason Furnival, Robin Simpson and Philip Wright complete the professional cast – a strong line up of experienced actors that deliver a good script effectively.
This piece plays on moral dilemmas brought about by the balance between money, ethics and the environment – a theme that is discussed at several after show panels that audiences are also invited to (details on the website).
The set is extraordinarily authentic and with the additional surroundings of the factory, this adds a further dimension of reality for the audience, making for an engrossing experience. Stoke is lucky to have this site-specific piece for 10 days and if it is possible for you to visit, you will not be disappointed.
Dirty Laundry plays the newly renovated Spode Works until 21st October. To buy tickets visit: Claybody Theatre.