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DIRTY WORK




Producer: Indian Ink

Director: Justin Lewis

Writers: Justin Lewis & Jacob Rajan

Musical Director: Josh Clark

Starring: Justin Rogers, Catherine Yates, Tessa Rao

Featuring: Mosaic Choir

Clarence St Theatre, 16-18 May 2024

 

For 26 years, Indian Ink has been garnering critical acclaim with their original plays entertaining more than 500,000 people and winning a swag of awards along the way. Their latest offering “Dirty Work” opened to a packed Clarence St Theatre last night.


Written by Justin Lewis and Jacob Rajan, Dirty Work is set in the Sisyphus office the offshoot of an Indian-based company. The cleaner Joy (Catherine Yates) arrives to tidy up the cubicles, followed by manager Neil (Justin Rogers), 2IC Zara (Tessa Rao), and a full compliment of office staff. Herein lies the cleverness of the work, all 30-odd staff members were actually a local Hamilton choir, in this case the Mosaic Choir. Although the vocalists had learned eight songs in preparation, they were none the wiser to the play that was about to unfold in which they were supporting characters.


In a bad start to the day, all the computers except for Neil’s are missing. CEO of Sisyphus VJ Kumari zooms in to instruct Neil and the team to prepare an extraordinary number of financial reports. Neil is completely out of his depth and does not have the nous or knowledge to collate the information so Zara attempts to take charge. Through all of this, dim-witted Joy has a personal issue to resolve and is forever in the way. In an unfortunate turn of events, Joy ends up on a zoom call with Mr Kumari and the whole debacle really starts to ramp up notch by notch.



As Joy, Yates was a delight. She gave a believable insight into the world of a cleaner struggling to make ends meet. There was an uncomfortableness in watching her storyline play out however it was utterly compelling.


As chaos ensued, Rogers physical comedy became more astonishing and absurd. His continual run ins with colleagues and a problem with Joy’s vacuum cleaner had the audience howling with delight.


The characters of Joy and Zara were polar opposites and a strong performance was required to cement this juxtaposition. Rao was a fantastic choice for Zara and played the confident, worldly, critical and occasionally sensitive role exceptionally well.


Members of the Mosaic Choir ran with the gags and provided wonderful harmonies across an extensive range of music from Puccini’s “Humming Chorus” to Lorde’s “Royals”. Inadvertently they also embodied somewhat dazed office workers as they followed along with prompting from the core cast, never entirely sure what was going to happen next.


Like cleaning, entertainment is a tough job but someone’s got to do it. Justin Lewis and Jacob Rajan’s clever script anchored by a splendid cast and supported by a talented choir ensured that Dirty Work was as neat as a pin, tidily wrapped up within 80 minutes.  


Images: Indian Ink

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