Pros: An incredibly rehearsed play of words
Cons: Morbidly confusing at times
Battersea Arts Centre continues to be one of my favourite venues. Not just because it’s my local theatre, but also because it never fails to deliver productions that stay with you no matter what.
This time BAC presents the UK premiere production by Forced Entertainment, also co-produced by PACT Zollverein Essen and HAU Hebbel Am Ufer Berlin. The show is called Dirty Work (The Late Shift), but don’t make any assumptions; it’s nothing you would have experienced before. Dirty Work was first created in 1998 and this re-visit goes even deeper into comical territory.
This performance brings a development of described or virtual events, focusing on the power of words and language to excite the audience. It allows you, the observer, to make use of your imagination and fill the auditorium with what you see in your mind, and project it into the performance as you follow along the storyline.
As you enter the chilly auditorium, the eeriness of the night can be easily felt. Cathy Naden and Robin Arthur enter the stage, accompanied by Terry O’Connor. The first two performers sit down in two chairs centre stage, while O’Connor puts on a record, the gentle music setting the mood.
Dressed in simple but striking outfits, Arthur and Naden begin to deliver the most well-enunciated performance I have ever encountered. Using only words, the two actors take turns narrating different scenarios in an almost competitive way, requiring your full attention to allow your imagination as spectator to fully engage in the performance.
Topics such as politics, media and everyday life, with the mightiness of the theatre world and the carefully laid out word-play, become hilarious and shocking at times. Maybe pessimistic also, but the sense of lightness and humour is never far away. Throughout the performance there are gasps and silent moments, followed by intense laughter from the audience.
In a carefully laid out way, Dirty Work is something that is going to make you want to talk about it. It may confuse you and question your sanity, if you find yourself able to laugh at topics like death and murder, but the reality of the scenarios are so well spoken that it will immediately bring you back down to earth.
If you are intrigued by absurdity, you will definitely enjoy this show. But hurry up, it’s nearing the end of its run!
Conceived and devised by the company
Director: Tim Etchells
Performed by: Robin Arthur, Cathy Naden, Terry O’Connor
Devised by: Robin Arthur, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden, Terry O’Connor
Box Office: 020 7223 2223
Booking Link: https://www.bac.org.uk/content_category/3258/whats_on/whats_on/shows
Booking Until: 1 July 2017