Review: Dirty Work
By Talia Carlisle
An ode to joy!
For the first time recently I joined a choir, and as we joined together as strangers to sing, holding our music and raising our voices in harmony, I could feel such joy and togetherness lifting everyone up, and connecting us together while also creating a melodic story told through the music.
This choir showed me kindness and community, and it’s the same feeling I feel watching Dirty Work: An Ode to Joy by Indian Ink.
Stories about kindness and connection among strangers and friends, are a well honed recipe of Indian Ink founders Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis which have been enchanting audiences since 1997 with their beloved characters in “Krishnan’s Dairy” and many beautiful following productions.
Their witty and melodic theatre works have inspired audiences across the country and world with their culturally diverse and heart warming comedic and dramatic shows.
Always compelling and thought provoking, and conveying the beautiful everyday characters we might see or overlook in society, and the hierarchy and life challenges they must overcome.
Indian Ink doesn’t conform to any predictable storylines or characters and this show is sure to surprise audiences – and even the cast themselves, which includes a choir formed by local singers and is different for each performance. What an organisational challenge that they somehow make look like a piece of cake!
These singers have not seen the script or cues beforehand and instead rely on musical director Josh Clark to lead the parade into musical territory which blends beautifully and comedically into the rest of the show, as we have come to expect in Indian Ink’s works.
It’s no wonder the energy and confidence builds from the cast and choir throughout the show, as they get to know each other. This fits well within the show’s premise of a workplace thrown into an unfamiliar situation with only each other to rely on to meet their quest set by an unfamiliar boss, played by Justin Rogers, and pushed into motion by charismatic employee Zara, played by the unstoppable Tessa Rao.
A wise Rihanna once wrote “It’s all about the work, work, work, work, work.” How well do we really know our colleagues or bosses? In typical heart-stealing fashion our leads, including the fascinating cleaner played by Catherine Yates, give us an insight into the hopes, dreams and stressors in these everyday characters, with Jacob Rajan’s charismatic touch felt, despite not appearing on the stage this time.
Along with new faces and new music, this show leaves out a familiar part of Indian Ink’s iconic history, which includes masks and traditional music, but the mix of new and old songs including Mātangi, Jai Ho!, and Something in the Water give everyone something to love and corral the story along.
After a long day at work, I didn’t expect a show about office life to hit my heart and remind me to open my eyes to the unknown beauties of the characters in my own world I may have overlooked and am grateful for this reminder.
The show also adds some meaning to the calendar on my desk that I now understand: “Work is love made visible.”
If we only see people at work or in their roles, we should be blessed to know them, because we are all one community, one people. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. You don’t have to be in a beautiful choir to see that (even though I do recommend it!) you can also see that in Indian Ink’s Dirty Work: An Ode to Joy.