Review by Rhys Tarling
Dirty People is a maniacally good time. Its comedy pulls from the jittery self-conscious nervousness of old school Woody Allen films and the modern stylings of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, where everybody is in a fevered race to the bottom to see who can be the most entertainingly scummiest douchebag. They’re all winners because its 70 minutes breezed by.
The plot begins with James (Charlie Falkner, who also wrote Dirty People) meeting up with his tinder date, Lucy (Charlotte Devenport). At first their odd pairing and comedic friction seems like it has the makings of a classic kind of romantic comedy; he’s goofy and charming and she’s cold and mean and together they’ll find some kind of middle ground. Seems like a sensibly small story for a play with the very small space it has. But then Dirty People sharply zags when you think it’ll zig.
It turns out that Lucy and some other interested parties are scrambling for a lascivious photo of Charlie’s sister, Tina (Zoe Jensen). Said lascivious photo is of her banging the Prime Minister of Australia. By the way, Tina’s last name is Taninsky, which rhymes with Lewinsky – cute detail. They want that photo for the purposes of blackmail and extortion and windfalls of cash. Enter Tina’s rageaholic boyfriend Rex (Sam Devenport) who also wants that photo. But he wants it suppressed because he’s quite a big fan of the current Prime Minister. His violent desperation to get what he wants produces some of Dirty People‘s blackly funniest moments.
Stumbling in and out of the story is the dim-witted bartender Fred (Sam Delich, also playing twin brother Ted), who happens upon the tawdry scheme – by accident, of course.
Dirty People‘s is very playful – it plays with time, perspectives, drama and humour, and your expectations of where the story is going. That it’s set at Joe‘s Juice Joint is kind of perfect because it’s just the kind of cool as hell dive bar where these kinds of people would be lurking and scheming to outwit one another. In a way, it owns its parentage to Pulp Fiction and yes I mean that as high praise.
Dirty People runs until 12 Feb at Joe’s Juice Joint. For more information and tickets, visit the Fringe World website here.