Glasgow Citizens Theatre and Stellar Quines Theatre Company
Paisley Arts Centre

3 Stars (3 / 5)

A huge pile of dirty clothes.

Perhaps a simplification, but how they resonate with each of the four characters is the theme of Francis Poet’s new play. Jack used to work in Glasgow’s shipyards and was poisoned by asbestos exposure twenty years ago. We see him in the last stage of his life. He seems to be coping with it quite well, especially with his joking around it. What breaks him is when his wife Beanie is diagnosed the same cancer she got from washing his dirty clothes from work.

Poet puts all her rage about asbestos, the problems and diseases it causes, into this little, fragile woman. She fires off facts about unforgivable disregard for the consequences of working with this material despite known effects for many decades and the horrible impact it has on herself and her family.

Both of them die within a few months, and their daughter Lucy has to cope with their loss. She is unstable, suffers from insomnia and develops a phobia of washing clothes. She ends up with a flat full of dirty clothing, hers and her parents’. She finds her peace at the end of the play in love with Pete. Pete is her boss and to have the circle closed – piles of washed and neatly folded clothes is used as a symbol of his mother’s love for him. And it is exactly what he does with Lucy’s messy apartment to express his love for her.

Fibres’ production combines realistic acting with a bit of exaggeration for comic situations and turns this romantic tragedy into dark-comedy with deep social aspects. It points out the poor working conditions of only a few years ago, ruling class’s disinterest in those who are working for it. But manages to include hope and humour that helps us survive the unfairness of life. Even the tacky, movie-like, romantic ending with falling snow on the kissing couple is logical.