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Sanitise

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An effervescent master-class in solo performance that never quite gets to grips with the emotional nitty-gritty of its subject matter.

Image of Sanitise
Photo credit: Richard Dyson

Phot credit: Richard Dyson

@ Tron Theatre, Glasgow until Sat 14 Feb 2015

Sanitise is an effervescent master-class in solo performance, but despite intensive scrubbing it never quite gets to grips with the emotional nitty-gritty of its subject matter.

In Caitlin Skinner’s Fringe First winning show, we spend a fraught hour with our silent protagonist (Melanie Jordan) as she escapes into ecstatic scrubbing of her bathroom in an effort to cleanse the day’s filth from her brain. However, there is something dark living beneath the bath; something unseemly our prissy protagonist can’t bring herself to exorcise…

It’s worth seeing Sanitise alone for the joyous performance of Edinburgh-based physical theatre practitioner Melanie Jordan. Jordan’s fearless physicality and elastic facial expressions create a character that, despite being an obvious caricature, is brilliantly engaging, effortlessly carrying the sometimes abrupt emotional changes of the plot.

Lubin Lone and Calum MacAskill’s grotesquery of animations is the perfect foil for our protagonist’s increasingly unwieldy fears and fantasies. When used in tandem with Danny Krass’ bold sound design and Simon Hayes’ effective lighting, the AV elements of the show skirt gimmickry entirely and instead become a visceral stage presence— the Hyde to Jordan’s prim-and-proper Miss Jekyll.

With no words and a running time of fifty minutes, Sanitise suffers a little from lack of development. The metaphorical nature of our woman’s obsession with the hidden filth of her bathroom— while conceptually clever— comes across a little heavy-handed after the first few furtive glances towards the green glowing light under the bathtub. The climax (ahem) of the piece, where Jordan’s character literally hides her head in the toilet to escape the unravelling of her sexual fantasies is monstrously relatable, but might have been more emotionally effective if the build-up had been more subtly handled.

While neither provocative nor hilarious enough to stick too long in the mind, Sanitise is an enjoyable production that avoids too much reflection but dredges up some interesting ideas about the depiction of female sexuality in culture, and where as a society we draw line between acceptable and outrageous.