Scrubbers – a heart-warming tale of five woman who find happiness when cleaners become a chorus line!
Local playwright Cenarth Fox has created his dramedy to tell the story of five very different women who come together to clean a large multi-storey office building. Their chats in the tea room reveal money troubles, lousy relationships, career failure and a difficult family history but when they decide to do something together their lives begin to change. The language of the play is vernacular and identifiable. The play also features original songs by Fox.
The play has been a hit in the UK, Canada, Australia and NZ and with its simple set requirement and five female characters, as well as its musical ingredient, Fox says his play is challenging and fun. His auditions were well attended and Fox states his casting choices were difficult – perhaps a testament to the uniqueness of the play which was certainly a factor for award winning actor (doubling as choreographer for the show) Margaret Rawlinson playing Mo.
"I auditioned for the play because, as far as I am aware, it hasn't been performed around the Melbourne metropolitan area and, therefore, was something 'different,'" says Rawlinson. "I had seen a couple of Cen's plays and really enjoyed them, so thought I would give it a go. I like the fact that most audience members would never have seen a production of Scrubbers, and would have no idea what to expect. This gives you the freedom to portray the character as you see it, and not as someone else has played it before or as a pre-conceived character."
Because of the specific demands of his play Fox had to find actors who could also sing and dance as well as an accent requirement for the character who is a new arrival in Australia. The other element that could be seen as a challenge by some is when a playwright directs his own work. Fox is pragmatic when it comes to this. "I only direct my own shows and each one is a challenge depending on the venue, cast, resources, etc.," states Fox. "STAG is fortunate in having a brilliant set designer/builder in Tony Leatch and being able to work on his wonderful set from early in rehearsals has made life a lot easier." His pragmatism is also evident in addressing the possible challenges of a rehearsal period which, he posits, are overcome by absorbing the pressure and finding a solution. Simple!
Fox has written many plays and musicals which have been perfumed locally and abroad. Most seem to explore the human connectedness between us and the fears and foibles that mark us all. His story telling has particular significance to many and was not lost on his current cast.
"I love the character of Mo," states Rawlinson. "She is a diamond in the rough – an older, maternal person (I seem to be getting more and more of these roles lately!) Beneath the rough exterior, Mo is a kind and sensitive person who deals with the trials of everyday life with humour. I really enjoy productions where the characters get an opportunity to tell their own, personal story – and Scrubbers does this beautifully."
These sentiments are echoed by fellow cast member Theresa Brancatisano playing Chrisse, who says: "I hadn’t been in a play for some time yet I was driven to audition for Scrubbers by the writing – Cenarth is a brilliant story teller. I thought the title was an interesting choice and after reading the extract of the script, I empathized with the characters and their hardship, and was drawn into their respective journeys. I was excited about the play and I really wanted to be a part of it. I thought it would be a lot of fun especially considering the musical side which is new to me, and the small cast."
So, for a good night out at the theatre STAG invites you to this gritty but heartwarming play which explores the power of mate ship in a place we inherently recognize as our own.
Scrubbers is playing at STAG May 31 – June 9