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Camden Fringe: Dirty, Flirty Thirty, Etcetera Theatre

Part of the Camden Fringe 2013
Written and Directed by Kat Woods

Presented by Purple Penguin Productions

Pros: Sex, sex, and more sex.

Cons: Occasionally a bit too much sex (no, not really).

Our Verdict: Of course this show is about more than sex but there is a lot of talk about it in it. Bright, sparkly and very, very witty.

Courtesy of Purple Penguin Productions

Cheeky, irreverent, chock full of inappropriate language, in a completely raucous setting above a Camden pub and in front of a very loud and very drunken audience. Top marks from me! Based on real events, this is a one-woman show chronicling the life of 30-something, single Sinead and her misadventures in London.

Of course, a lot of us have seen all this before. Sex and the City immediately springs to mind. It succeeds here due to the relentless charm of performer Marie-Claire Rugman. Rugman adopts the guise of numerous characters, a Liverpudlian nurse and an Indian doctor amongst many others. Each are performed with complete conviction and injected with an endless amount of warmth. The performance has provided her with the opportunity to demonstrate the true extent of her acting ability.

Dirty, Flirty Thirty differs from other works of its kind in that it steers well clear of clichés and a constant smattering of filthy humour. There is Sinead coping with the death of a long term partner, Sinead coping with the horrors of one night stands, Sinead coping with… (well to give this bit of information away would spoil it for the rest of you so I won’t, but you get my drift). There is a lot here to empathise with and be amused by. Additionally, thanks to playwright Kat Woods’ research, none of what is performed for us on stage rings untrue. We are given permission to shed a tear as well as laugh hysterically.

The performer and audience interaction onstage is something we’ve all seen before but it is never over-egged and always serves the need of Sinead’s story. There are times when the dialogue appears quite clunky and the pace can often slack but we are all quite boozed up and sitting in a sweltering room above a pub bellowing with laughter at obscene and crude jokes so what do we care! It’s all a bit like watching an up and coming band in their height of cool before they become too popular and start selling loads of records.

As is the case with most directors staging their own writing, I got the feeling that Woods needs to detach herself a tad from her creation and cut out the bits from her play that aren’t working. But of course this is what’s great about the theatre, it is organic and always changing. Dirty, Flirty Thirty may appear quite different in a year’s time.

The simple and bare staging is complimented by a modern pop soundtrack and the loudest air conditioner in any theatre in Camden. The miming of props can frustrate me but here it proves almost necessary to propel Sinead’s story along. There are one or two moments however, that I thought could do with some fine tuning.

It is a testament to Woods’ and Rugman’s working relationship that this works so well. Bring on the sequel!

Seen the show yourself? Agree or disagree? Submit your own review with our Camden Fringe Big Audience Project! 

Dirty, Flirty Thirty ran at Etcetera Theatre from 12 August 2013 to 21 August 2013.
Book Camden Fringe shows online: http://www.camdenfringe.com/?id=6

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