DISHWASHERS: Birmingham Rep to 15 02 and touring

DISHWASHERS: Morris Panych
Birmingham Rep
Runs: 2h 5m, one interval. To 15 Feb (Bham Rep) Tour to 12 April

Review: Alexander Ray Edser 05 02 14

Scrape off the grime, profound questions emerge.
This is a slow-burn play.

Dressler is a long-time dishwasher in a highly fashionable, high class restaurant. Young Emmett is new to the job; it turns out he used to be one of the banking crowd that throws money around upstairs. Dressler inducts him into the work. Hovering around is very elderly, Moss.

We see Emmett learning the ropes, see his satisfactions and dissatisfactions. Halfway through the first half we suddenly realise we care about him.

But gradually, through the banter and bickering, playwright Morris Panych brings questions to the fore, profound questions. Is it better to live contentedly with no ambitions or live with ambitions which are bound to be thwarted? Can the wealthy only enjoy their lifestyles on the back of an army of people who carry out menial and often dirty tasks, people they ignore the existence of?

In many ways, the restaurant is a metaphor for our capitalist society – and it’s conclusions are not comfortable.

The setting is realistic and the play is reminiscent of the ‘work‘ plays that stemmed from the Court in the 60s. Yet Panych’s play never feels like a reworking; its debates are fresh, full of vitality, and needed.

David Essex, the centred Dressler, embarks on his debates with a detached calmness. We see exactly where he’s coming from, but we are convinced, in our hearts, he is missing out on something. Rik Makarem is incredibly engaging as the younger Emmett. Even when he finds himself he is lost. We see it clearly, and the tragedy is, so does he.

Director, Nikolai Foster, orchestrates the discussions well, enabling the play to find its own level and breathe. The downside of this is that I never sensed any real pressure from the restaurant above.

David Essex: Dressler
Andrew Jarvis: Moss
Rik Makarem: Emmett
Jared Garfield: Burroughs

Director: Nikolai Foster
Designer: Matthew Wright
Lighting Designer: David Plater
Sound Designer: Dan Hoole
Composer: Grant Olding

2014-02-05 11:30:34

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