Clean (PPP), Traverse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Oran Mor presented by the Traverse Theatre
Orla O Loughlin (director), Patrick McGurn (designer)
Nadia Clifford (Chloe), Joanna Kaczynska (Katya), Samantha Pearl (Zainab)
Running time

The inspiration for Clean, we are told in an off-stage voiced prologue, arose from a conversation between the playwright and a (male) computer games designer.

Understandably outraged by the designer’s assumption that ‘girls don’t have adventures’, she proceeded to write her own girl's own adventure, which is the fourth offering in this season of 'A Play, a Pie and a Pint'.

Does it work? Well, to be a bit boy about it, sort of. What niggles is that the writer not only accepted the challenge but also the premises behind what seems to appeal to post-adolescent male mind (stop sniggering at the back!). Upper class Chloe, Polish immigrant Katya and Egyptian Zainab are three ladies whose mission in life is to carry out clean (i.e. ‘victimless’) crimes, whether be it credit card cloning or smuggling emeralds (so much more ethically and environmentally superior to diamond smuggling).

Somewhat entrapped by the female owner of their favourite bar, the otherwise mutually excluding trio of solo operatives have to band together to collectively bankrupt the dubious male intent on taking over the bar.

Slightly reminiscent of recent British crime caper movies, Clean, although wittily told in rhyming couplets, never quite captures the laconic darkness which this genre often exhibits.

Nadia Clifford as Chloe, Joanna Kaczynska as Katya and Samantha Pearl as Zainab work hard to make their stories convincing, but Sabrina Mahfouz’s tale is a little too tall for the compression it has to undergo to fit the time available.

It might well work better on film (or even between the covers of a graphic novel), but even Mahfouz’s luxuriant language and the combined talents of the cast, whose characters might well persuade this reviewer to part with a wedge of his hard-earned, still left him feeling more could have been made of the dichotomies and contradictions for women engaging with male-dominated structures, whether criminal or computer-generated, and of the question whether any crime can truly be called ‘clean’.