FRINGEWORLD 2017 – Dirty People (4 stars)

Review by Laura Money

FRINGEWORLD 2017 is bigger and better than any of its previous years, so it stands to reason that the venues are getting more creative. Heading into the dimly lit dive pub, Joe’s Juice Joint eyes blinking to adjust, one finds a lone table with two chairs in the middle of an arena-style seating arrangement. This is an immersive experience as you are up close and personal to the action in an obscure but clever setting. Charlie Faulkner, writer and performer, and Michael Abercromby, director have created a unique piece of theatre that wouldn’t be unwelcome in the big festivals and theatre spaces around the world.

The action kicks off with Lucy (Charlotte Devenport) entering the bar and seating herself at the table. Looking thoroughly bored, scrolling through her smartphone, she is fiercely independent, ignoring all who come near. Enter James (Falkner) who does all he can to get the young woman’s attention. This does appear to be steeped in the masculine entitlement that any woman ignoring a man should automatically drop everything and pay attention to him. When Lucy refuses to pander to his attentions, James spits on the floor. With poise and charm, Lucy spits back – upping the ante. It becomes clear that these two are actually supposed to be meeting. The tension is darkly comedic, the observational humour clever and on-point, and Lucy’s frosty delivery is awe-inspiring. Devenport is a joy to watch. The scene changes and heads down a much darker path than anticipated, although it is set in a dive bar, so probably should have seen it coming! As the action concludes in a rather unexpected manner, the set is cleared and a new pair of actors enter.

What follows is a peek into the adjoining room to where the main action just took place. The bottle-episode quality of this is whip-smart. Tina (the effervescently hilarious Zoe Jensen) and Rex (Sam Devenport) are on a date in the next room, unaware of the action that is taking place. Jensen is hilarious as the ditzy but loveable Tina, and Devenport shows great restraint as the angry ‘meninist’ figure who is ashamed at his right wing values being breached. Another scene change and the action progresses to what happened at the bar. Samuel Delich is absolutely spot-on in his rendition of Fred the barman (and later Ted, his brother.) His affable charm and funny little quirks reveal a good bloke who is caught up in the ugliness of the other characters’ actions.

Faulkner and Abercromby have pulled off something wonderful here. Faulkner just gets people – each character has a distinct set of quirks and motivations that are so real they could be anyone walking down the street. Each vignette is a glimpse into the multifaceted layers of the evening. Tensions rise, and loyalties are shifted so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up. Dark humour keeps this show from being mired in the ugliness of humanity, yet it also highlights how beautiful people can be ugly at times.


When: 8th – 12th February 2017 | 7:00pm

Where: Joe’s Juice Joint | Northbridge | PERTH

Tickets: $26

Info: Duration 70 minutes | Recommended 18+