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Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Breakfast plays: Clean

Traverse Theatre

Genre: Drama

Venue: Traverse Theatre,


Low Down

With coffee and bacon roll in hand we enter the shady world of criminals and three women working for a fourth against a man that at least three of them have reason to hate. With little more than three stools and a voiceover for company Zainab, Chloe and Katya take us through a preposterously delicious criminal scheme that keeps you on the edge of the seat until the finale. 


Zainab is all ye got me London gangsta style , Chloe a stiff upper back accompanying the emerald smuggling smugness of too much easy money whilst Katya, too young to be ex KGB could have been a child planted and brought up knowing just how to destroy the West. We have these three as narrators as they take us through their meeting before being recruited to swindle Christophe Clementine. I won’t spoil the storyline of the caper but suffice to say audacity is the key though plausibility may have to take a back seat; having said that it is an exciting white knuckle ride.

Any script that includes the line – I bought her Tangfastics just so I could steal the fizzy cherries – and get a laugh is working. That it works so well is just tangfastic itself. This sizzles from the start where the author of the play, Sabrina Mahfouz tells us that she wanted to create piece that had women at the centre like super heroes for the gaming generation because all the games played had men as their central characters. She more than achieves this with skill and makes the decision to develop this from the 2012 script in hand performances well justified. In particular I liked the rhythm of the rapping in Zainab’s delivery; it bounced and helped give a real feel to the pace of the piece. There are so many twists and turns but we are happy to go along with them because it is assured and performed with such verve and aplomb we never lose confidence.

All three actors are just perfect. Emma Dennis Edward’s Zainab is superbly well observed; Jade Anouka’s Chloe all arrogance and breeding; whilst Chloe Massey’s Katya is the iciest of the three. To be taken on such a journey we need to really invest in the characters. These characters are never going to be our number one choice for dinner guests but their charm, through their criminal undertones, is enough to make us warm to their caper. Zainab is probably the dominant narrator and we trust her more because she has her feet on a ground we all share.

Three stools are all you need when the quality is like this. But it also takes the lighting to be spot on and add to the atmosphere. At 9am atmosphere can be difficult but with breakfast on the go it was more than the rolls that were being well buttered up.

Clearly I loved this and getting the 6.20am train from Ayr became a minor irritation very quickly. This was well worth it and the crime caper took on a new dimension for me. Whilst Val McDermid may have been at the Book Festival hoping nobody approached her with a bottle of ink this was where the real criminal joy was to be found.  It just bounced you into wanting the bad guys to win; even when they seemed to be good. We have had a lot of reverse drama over the last few years on TV – Hustle and Leverage being just two – but theatre has never been as good as this was in comparison.

Of course as a package this excelled. Turning up for your breakfast and getting entertained in times when austerity is the key word on most people’s lips can feel like wonderful indulgence but the quality of what is onstage is important. Let’s be clear A Play, A Pie and a Pint did not succeed on the quality of the pies! I found this flawless. I was awake and utterly aware of just wonderful theatre at breakfast can be – now I want to find some more.