CLEAN IRENE & DIRTY MAXINE by Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Parry, directed by Karin Randoja (Independent Aunties). At Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Runs to April 2. $10-$15. See Continuing, page 86. 416-975-8555. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
A rowdy crowd packed Tallulah's Cabaret for the opening night of Clean Irene & Dirty Maxine , a clever comedy of modern morals in which 26 heroines meet 26 horrible ends in alphabetical order and perfect rhyme.
After three years touring Fringe festivals around the country and gaining indie cred when Clean Irene was picked as best new play at SummerWorks 2003, Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Parry a matched set of smart-assed, sly-witted performers if there ever was one deliver on the hype with a performance that's as critically acclaimed as it is popular with audiences.
The punishment fits the crime for all the ladies in the Independent Aunties alphabet. The titular Clean Irene, who keeps both her body and soul pristine, finds former flames and false friends literally nestled in creases on her legs and arms. She scrubs and scrubs to get rid of them, but ends up scrubbing herself out. The actions each character takes to hold herself together eventally lead to her demise.
Chatterton and Parry, dressed as Girl Guides in matching lime-green pinafores, royal blue tights and prim brown Mary Janes, deliver the tale of each deranged demise with bizarre humour and a strong dose of physical comedy.
Sherri Hay 's set, a panel of rotating letter blocks á la Wheel Of Fortune, provides Chatterton and Parry with a nice sight gag for the piece's finale, a short and hysterical ballet of fallen women.
I get the impression that director Karin Randoja as the offstage Auntie is a coordinator and co-conspirator more than an authoritative directorial figure. At 60 minutes, this is a short, sweet, punchline-driven cheeky monkey of a play.