Navigate back Back
Breadcrumb path arrow icon
Review: Dirty Crusty

Review: Dirty Crusty

Review: Dirty Crusty cover photo on Stagedoor
Depression and unwashed underwear, dance and desire collide and explode messily across the stage in Dirty Crusty (The Yard) an early play by American playwright Clare Barron whose Dance Nation, seen at the Almeida last year, was such a glorious, free-flying, free-falling thing.

This may not quite have the surprise impact, plaited intricacies or adolescent shimmering of that later more accomplished play, but it is recognizably by the same writer, and offers a similar illicit thrill of glimpsing something about female experience that is so often kept hidden away in a box as if it is a dirty secret.

The similarities are not just because Dirty Crusty has dance and performance at its very heart but also in the way that it probes romance and reality—including rape—and the emotional hinterlands of female relationships and how women inhabit their own bodies.

Akiya Henry & Douggie McMeekin. Photos by Maurizio Martorana.

Beginning with the image of a house on fire, Barron introduces us to Jeanine (Akiya Henry), a young woman in her early thirties in a dead-end job whose state of mind is reflected by her lack of personal hygiene and the state of her apartment.

Reconnecting with former high school peer Victor (Douggie McMeekin) with whom she starts a relationship, Jeanine also becomes entranced by Synda (Abiona Omonua) a former ballerina who now teaches dance classes and who has a strength and ease with her body that Jeanine admires. Is it too late for Jeanine to become a dancer and can she heed Synda’s advice not to forget to breathe?

Akiya Henry & Douggie McMeekin.

At its heart is connection between the relationship women have with both their bodies and their minds and how that connects with boundaries, consent and desire in its many forms. The final moments of the piece are just brilliant: a demonstration of how young girls exude complete confidence in their own bodies, their abilities and sense of self. How and why does that change? What are the factors—social, cultural and narrative—that play into that loss of confidence.

Jay Miller’s production plays cunningly on the idea of performance and reveals, what is masked and what is shown, with a design by Emma Bailey that provides a series of curtained stages. Life is a performance, but loneliness, uncertainty and despair lurk at the edges of the stage, always jostling to make their entrance.

Akiya Henry & Abiona Omonua.

Dirty Crusty runs at the Yard Theatre until Sat 30 Nov.

Share this article on:

Facebook Icon Twitter Icon
Written by

Lyn Gardner

New tips and reviews every week. If you're looking for innovative theatre, you've come to the right place.
Logo for influencer Lyn Gardner on Stagedoor

Mentioned in Article Toggle mentioned in article