Review: Dirt Under the Carpet (A Play, A Pie & A Pint)
Updated: Jun 10
Note to self: when going to a play, a pie, and a pint, always come early. These are held monthly at The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen, and serve up exactly what they offer, with the drama taking the form of a forty minute one-act performance of some new writing. Having never attended one of these events, being unable to enjoy either the pie or the pint, I was surprised when, having arrived with a comfortable forty minutes to spare all the tables were taken along with most of the good seats in the back row. I was surprised to discover how popular the event was, though unsurprised to find that I appeared to be the only person of my generation in attendance. What a gem I have been missing out on! Having found a seat with only two pillars barring my view, I watched the drama unfold as night time office cleaners Lorraine and Muriel discover the body of their nit-picking boss Mr. B, and spend the evening trying to figure out who is responsible using clues from how employees arrange their desks, and occasionally cleaning the blood from the linoleum.
Joyce Falconer put in a typically brilliant performance as the grouchy perfectionist Muriel. She and Karen Fishwick had great chemistry as the odd, bickering couple with underlying mutual respect and consideration for each other. Flashbacks serve to show how their relationship developed over the moonlit hours spent scrubbing the floors to an ice rink shine, whilst Lorraine gives the occasional, endearing monologue.
What I liked was the bitingly dark and distinctly Scottish humour from Rona Murno’s script (other notable plays including “Iron” and “Bold Girls”), made better by the tangy, snappy and supremely sarcastic Doric dialect. References to modern Aberdeen (the glittering granite, the economy, “Britain in Bloom”) were also a welcome addition to the production, giving a genuine sense of being grounded and understated, as well as creating a piece of theatre whose brief humour would be lost on audiences ten, twenty years from now. The show formed part of Aberdeen Performing Arts’ “Granite Noir” season, celebrating local talents in crime writing. So, it’s fair to expect a mere exhibition for Murno’s talent, as with, say, one of The Lemon Trees “Scratch Nights”. Fortunately, you would be totally unaware of this from watching it, as the production can stand on its own two feet.
If I have any gripes with the performance, aside from its slightly impractical if charming venue, it would be that a monologue or two from Muriel would have been nice. Lorraine was an interesting character, but to see the classically motherly character jerk out of the story to break the fourth wall and think aloud would have been quite a treat – with hilarious possibilities, if what she thought didn’t match her actions. Transitions were not always smooth either, with some dialogue seeming forced in order to have an excuse to jump back however many years.
Though the performance was brief, it made for a lovely break and provided a humorous and homely feeling. Such events should be supported as much as possible, keeping small, local productions alive and kicking. Despite missing out on two-thirds of my ticket worth (and giving me something to think about in terms of the legality of being granted a drink I had technically already paid for), the performances, script, and hilarious final twist made for a highly enjoyable evening. Were it not finished last week, I would have recommended it. When the next Play, Pie, and Pint comes around keep an eye out; it’ll be the best £11 you’ve spent all month. Four stars.