The dark, dilapidated housing schemes of Glasgow are the setting for John Stuart’s Dirty Water, a cheeky, bawdy comedy about a bunch of disparate Glasgow guys that work for Eager Beavers Cleaners, a dubiously titled independent cleaning company contracted by the Council to clean up the closes of the city’s tenement blocks.
The unlikely quartet is grudgingly led by Stuart’s own Jock, the team leader who’s also just found himself a sleep-deprived father. Boab (Robert O’Donnell) is the team’s youngest and its supposed ladies man, Crawford (Joe Cassidy) the alcoholic da’ figure, and Brian (Philip Todd) the down on his luck actor working to pay the rent while he waits on his next big break through Shakespeare.
Each of the characters are brilliantly drawn with good solid performances. Stuart and his crew make them both believable and funny, successfully showing the vulnerability of the characters and the chemistry they have together. The four cleaners all live with the conventional pretence of manliness and bravado, each sidelining or attempting to hide their real fears and worries. Jock grows ever more concerned about his life and his career, Boab and Brian struggle to hide insecurities whilst Crawford simply sweeps his under the carpet with the constant presence of a hip flask.
Crawford enjoys some of the funnier lines throughout the play alongside the female players who constantly have the boys at the end of a tight leash. “The Beaver”, the cleaning company’s boss, played by the scene-stealing Leah Moorhouse, makes the audience’s view of her swing from hate to sympathy with ease. Vivien Taylor plays a complaining resident with gusto, switching seamlessly to smiling lust interest and Jennifer McErlane goes from relaxed and laid back with barmaid Rachel to over the top pantomime proportions as the council inspector in the black wig.
Relative newcomer Stuart paints an unglamorous picture, peppered with raucous humour and the occasional obscene joke, but all with one strong theme running through it – friendship. The guys struggle in the job, clash with their boss and argue and tussle with each other. At the end of the day, however, that is all they have – each other.
Whilst solidly entertaining, Dirty Water is not for the easily offended. Dildos, bong mop buckets, sperm and the obvious jokes involving the use of the word beaver are all here with more than a few crude jokes thrown in for good measure. However, this is a story about Glaswegian guys shouting, fighting, laughing and working together. It’s not going to sound any other way.