Over twenty years-old now, Dirty Dusting, tours theatres, stopping at St George’s Hall in Bradford  where Leo Owen caught the show

With its title, promotional material promising “theatrical Viagra” and lewd description, audiences of Dirty Dusting get exactly what they’re expecting with a few surprises thrown in. Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood’s play depicts three ageing cleaners made redundant after a corporate take-over of the office block that they work in. Stumbling across a sex line, inspires the trio to take control of their future and avenge their unfair dismissal. Setting up “Telephone Belles” with its annoyingly catchy jingle, they hope to leave in style with decent redundancy packages to boot but events take an unexpected turn.

Opening in a rundown office with The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love”, the action is plotted over the course of Elsie, Gladys and Olive’s final weekend working together. Their familiar relationship allows Waugh and Wood to quickly characterise through chatter. Gladys (Leah Bell) fancies herself an actress, successfully starring in amateur dramatics shows, hoping her next role might be dirty panto “Sinderella”. Elsie (Crissy Rock) is single and nostalgic, yet obsessed with death. Olive (Vanessa Karon) is a former girl guide leader, worried about reputation, yet happy to dabble in verbal titillation. Their mean-spirited boss, David (Paul Dunn), is clearly a mummy’s boy but otherwise feels a tad underdeveloped, especially in some of his earlier dialogue.

From gags about flavoured condoms creating a sexual fruit salad, the action moves quickly to Elton John’s “Saturday” and the ladies are in business already with sexy pseudonyms and an unrealistically speedy up-take. Watching Kylie (Elsie), Madonna (Gladys) and Marilyn (Olive) ineptly man the phone line, of course, results in hilarious interactions as Kylie awkwardly advises a customer with a Sootie puppet to be cautious of the wand and crotchless knickers are defined through mime.

While Waugh and Wood present us with stereotypes of women of a certain age, their story still touches on important often neglected societal issues, such as ageism in the workplace, loneliness, marital stagnation and libido. Gladys proves sex drive doesn’t completely dry up with age, boasting they’ll have to “bury me in a Y shaped coffin” after rediscovering her desire. Meanwhile, Marilyn’s enterprising ideas prove it’s possible to reinvent yourself regardless of age.

The show’s lovable leads, provide unexpected role models, celebrating female empowerment. The story is somewhat contrived but the script effectively pampers to the audience, stringing together a series of cheesy one-liners and double entendre right up until the evil boss’ comeuppance. Perfectly tailored to girls’ night out, Dirty Dusting elicits audible howls and cackles from male viewers too, especially when Duck Sauce’s “Big Bad Wolf” makes a surprise appearance. Carry On fans are sure to love this.

Dirty Dusting showed at St George’s Hall Thursday 18th January before continuing its UK tour: https://www.facebook.com/DirtyDusting/?locale=en_GB