Performed by Helen Norton (Fair City, The Heiress) and Rose Henderson (Fair City, Father Ted) and Directed by Deirdre Molloy
Viking Theatre, Clontarf 8 May – 20 May
Tickets €12 Booking 087-1129970 / www.vikingtheatredublin.com
Bewley’s Cafe Theatre at Powerscourt Townhouse 24 April 24 – 6 May
Tickets €10-12, Booking 086-8784001 / www.bewleyscafetheatre.com
The Dolmen Theatre, Cabinteely, Preview 6 Feb, Opening Tue 7 Feb – 18 Feb
Tickets €15 Booking 087-1018202
In her gilded cage in the leafy suburbs of Dublin, Mrs. T has managed to hold onto her middle class lifestyle but at what cost? Filling her life with writers’ groups, yoga holidays, school reunions and obsessive cleaning is not quite enough. Her marriage is a sham, and her daughter wants to get away as far and fast as possible. She has to pick up the pieces or succumb to depression.
Her husband may control her spending, but she does have a cleaning lady, Ruby, who calls every Tuesday to clean the house and blow away the cobwebs of Mrs. T’s life with sarcasm, wit and common sense.
This keenly observed comedy brings together two women who come to depend on each other for laughter and sanity, while their home life disintegrates around them.
As their stories unfold we see how banter and laughter help them to deal with the betrayals of children, the cold indifference of a failed marriage and the domestic catastrophes behind the double-glazing, spit and polish.
Emer O’Kelly, Sunday Independent 30 April 2017
IF YOU WANT CHARM, YOU’LL GET IT IN SPADES FROM RUBY TUESDAY …
THERE IS A CONSIDERABLE AUDIENCE FOR THIS MATERIAL AND HENDERSON HAS HIT IT SUCCESSFULLY…
THE CHARM TRUMPS ALL.
No More Workhorse – Review by P McGovern
Anyone expecting from the title that there’s a Rolling Stones angle will have to settle for Peter Skellern and a bit of ragtime piano. The world presented in this revival of Rose Henderson’s 2008 play is not rebellious or even vaguely Rock ‘n Roll. It is the staid, mundane and uneventful world of two women – at least it appears so, on the surface. Like most lives, however, when you glimpse beyond the surface there are all kinds of hidden personal dramas, involving relationship difficulties, the onset of ageing, and the grief of bereavement. Henderson has reworked the piece significantly from the original version, developing the relationship between two women, Mrs. T and Ruby, the woman who cleans for her. Yes, on Tuesdays.
The characters are well delineated: middle-class Mrs. T, all smiley, open, bubbly charm, warm and empathic; Ruby a no-nonsense working class woman, good-natured but clear-eyed, with a very realistic sense of the world around her and her own place in it. As the two settle into their weekly routine of laundering, dusting and cleaning, it seems as if we are in for a straightforward, slice-of-domestic-life and girl-talk piece. However, all is not as bland and cosy as it first appears. Both women have encountered serious problems in their family lives and, in their respective crises, each has thrown the other “a lifeline”, reinforcing the bond of friendship beyond the boundaries of employer/employee. The seriousness of the play is leavened with a lot of fun and the plot is enlivened with time lapses into girlhood and recapturing a few serious moments too. Colm Maher’s lighting design readily signals the shifts in time, place and character and, like Deirdre Molloy’s sympathetic direction, it does so without fuss.
Both Rose Henderson as Mrs T and Helen Norton as Ruby are excellent. Henderson’s wreathed, beaming smiles and fluttering movements and her eagerness to please at her schoolgirls’ reunion somehow belie an underlying anxiety to fit in and a need for affirmation. Norton’s Rose doubles as Mrs. T’s teenage sister of 30 years ago, effortlessly changing from inner city working class to solid Dublin middle-class, giggly school girl on holiday and later to the neighbour who calls in a misguided but well-intentioned effort to be helpful. When the darker side of Ruby’s life experience surfaces, it is deeply affecting, all the more so for the restraint in the acting and direction.
An odd weakness in the production is the stage set, not explained by the restricted space. Two cream-coloured, leatherette dining chairs of an “apartment fit-out” type and an odd-looking table draped with a cloth that reaches the floor. A €5-type of printed image of a cow as the only picture on the walls. The whole impression sits uneasily with the image of a couple that goes on golfing trips to South Africa. However, the strength of the performances means that such minor issues don’t really take from an enjoyable and worthwhile lunchtime performance which continues at Powerscourt Theatre, South William St, daily at 1 pm until May 6th
John McKeown Irish Daily Mail 11 April 2008
Cleaning Lady makes a Fine Agony Aunt…
Verdict: Spunky comic two-hander ****
Writer Rose Henderson has come up with something fresh and often very funny. There’s the class reunion where Mrs. T assures her friends that she won’t say a word about her wonderful children, but can chatter about nothing else. That’s followed by a demonstration of Mrs. T’s ability to slip into her ‘yogic state’ at will. The personal griefs she unburdens on Ruby are treated more seriously, but there’s an irrepressible quality to Mrs. T’s laments, lit by unsettling flashes of honesty. Henderson’s first play, deftly directed by Deirdre Molloy, is a lively, irreverent piece of writing.
Lucy White Metro 22 April 2008
Initially threatened by loud drumming from Grafton Street, Ruby Tuesday found its own rhythm, weaving real-time conversations between the two women with seamless flashbacks – a pile of laundry was fashioned very convincingly into a bawling babe in arms when new-mother Mrs. T recalled a touching phone call with her own mum. Rose Henderson wrote and stars, playing Mrs. T down to a, well, tea. Inspired by women who work in the home, Henderson has mingled her own personal experiences with poetic license for a heart-warming tale of friendship in unlikely places. Helen Norton meanwhile plays the pragmatic Ruby without ever resorting to working-class caricature. Mrs. T might be just another middle-aged wife/mother/daughter trying to reclaim her identity after the kids have flown the nest but her plight is touchingly handled. Issues of dieting, absent husbands, miscarriage, moody children and self-help books may point towards a very specific demographic, but the performances ensure Ruby Tuesday is a little gem anyone can enjoy.
Gerry Colgan Irish Times 4 April 2008
Mrs. T is an upper crust suburban housewife whose life has been difficult, leaving her vulnerable to introspection and neuroses. Ruby is the cleaning lady who adds dollops of common sense and realism to her routine chores. Rose Henderson’s play juxtaposes these two characters to some effect. Their short soliloquies and exchanges provide pleasant entertainment for the audience. The author has much to offer. There are neat alter ego tricks to exploit the possibilities of theatre as when both characters become Mrs. T, fending off false friendship in contrasting ways. The actors – the author and the ebullient Helen Norton – hit the right notes to generate the laughter of recognition.
Sara Keating Sunday Business Post 27 April 2008 ***
Henderson plays the self-obsessed Mrs. T, whose secret weaknesses for cream buns and old-fashioned crooners make her more of a fallible heroine than a martyr. Norton gives a delightfully physical performance as the dogged cleaning lady, Ruby. The more difficult scenes of Henderson’s play are comprehensively executed, such as the scene where Norton becomes a stand-in for Mrs. T’s conscience, embodying Mrs. T’s inner voice to comic effect. Some of the acerbic social observation in the play is penetrating and acute, such as the peculiarly female habit of celebrating other people’s problems while pretending to sympathise. A packed house revelled in Henderson’s biting take on domesticity.
* * * * *