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Writing for CurtainUp NYC Weather
|A CurtainUp Review
By Jenny Sandman
It's hard to know what to think about Dirty Works now playing at Greenwich Street Theatre. For starters, it's unremittingly British. Produced by Stiff Upper Lip, a British theatre company specializing in London exports this is the first world premiere by a British writer (that is, a play not first produced in England).
Both the writer, Jamie Linley, and the young cast show a lot of promise. But it's hard to assess a play with dialogue , that's hard to understand. The characters speak in very thick, almost impenetrable London slum accents and slang. Think Trainspotting without the Scottish burr, but not as interesting.
Lanky, played by the playwright (making his dual professional playwriting and acting debut), is a junkie dying of AIDS who sticks a young girl with one of his dirty needles and subsequently finds religion. The criminal under life mobilizes to get him. He's he's hospitalized, so they go after his friend Darren who's a harmless enough punk (as are his other druggie friends) who's gotten himself mixed up with the wrong crowd.
Drugs and sex are the currency in this part of London. It's a grim landscape, characterized by unrelieved poverty and misery.
Dirty Works is also a maze of characters and subplots that involve strippers, pimps, and drug lords. The plot is at times as hard to follow as the slang and thick accents.
The young and energetic cast, led by Victor Villar-Hauser as Darren, give good performances. Director Kevin Little does a serviceable job with the many scenes and locations but the pacing is slow. With a story line that's already depressing enough, the black-on-black set in this black box theater is definitely a buzzkill.
While Linley's a talented writer, there's just not a lot to work with here. There are a lot of plays and films about the UK's underworld, and frankly, the already mentioned Trainspotting did it better -- and if that didn't appeal to you, Dirty Works won't either.
It should be said that Stiff Upper Lip has a good reputation. Don't write off their future shows.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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