Bizarre fixations lead to untimely death in play

Quality rules quantity in comedy Clean Irene & Dirty Maxine

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Clean Irene and Dirty Maxine

"IT WAS SO SMALL YOU COULDN'T EVEN SEE IT?!" The latest play to hit The Grand Theatre, Clean Irene & Dirty Maxine, may be dark and morbid, but it sure is fun. Don’t miss out on these girl scouts.

Clean Irene and Dirty Maxine
Performed by: Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Parry
Written by: Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Parry
Directed by: Karin Randoja

4 stars

In Clean Irene and Dirty Maxine, the characters meet absurd, untimely deaths because of their own fixations.

The play begins with a brief song that doesn’t do the ensuing hilarity proper justice. The women recount the lives of Arty Marty, Busy Lizzie, Clean Irene and others by acting out a vignette of the characters’ lives and the ironic fixations leading to their deaths.

The show begins with Arty Marty (Chatterton), a pretentious painter showcasing her “haiku paintings.” She’s so stunned by the drab review it receives from art critic Busy Lizzie (Parry), she dies in a horrified position mimicking Munch’s “Scream.” The other 15 characters die in similarly amusing but bizarre ways.

The play’s black comedy is emphasized by its interesting use of rhyme. Each sentence and action conveys meaning and significance.

The dialogue, which has been described as a mix of Edward Gorey and Dr. Seuss, is astounding, and its presentation is even more so. A few morals creep into the show, especially when the two women proclaim: “Another one dead and laid in her grave, another example of how not to behave.”

Chatterton and Parry have marvelous chemistry and are superb actresses, not to mention scriptwriters. Their facial expressions and command of the script are effective and convincing. When the audience roared with laughter, it only fuelled the actresses’ performances.

Despite not having music, set or costume changes, the women successfully transformed the McManus Theatre each time they introduced a new character.

The set consisted of a string of letters of the alphabet, which were turned around each time a tale was told about a person whose name began with that letter.

The play closes with a funeral march mourning the deceased characters and a solemn warning to avoid getting caught up in bizarre fixations.

Clean Irene and Dirty Maxine has already won several awards for its ingenuity, humour and presentation. There is no doubt this is an extremely ingenious comedy definitely worth checking out.

Clean Irene and Dirty Maxine plays at the Grand Theatre until March 24. Tickets are $12.72 for students.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette