It’s a world hidden from most of us, as we snooze our way through the night. Yet in Britain today, hundreds of thousands of people, most of them women, scrape a living as part of the army of cleaners who start work as early as 3am, in the office blocks, hotels and malls that dominate our cities.
Oran Mor, Glasgow ****
In Rona Munro’s fine 40-minute play for A Play, A Pie And A Pint, Muriel and Lorraine are two of those women, working in Aberdeen. Muriel is middle-aged and lifeworn, but has learned how to “make her own job satisfaction” out of cleaning work; Lorraine is a young aspiring singer-songwriter who fell foul of the law after decking an abusive boyfriend, and has to take whatever job she can get.
And when Lorraine arrives at work one day to find the bullying boss of a dodgy oil contracting company lying dead near his desk, she can’t pretend she’s sorry – although she is increasingly suspicious that Muriel is not entirely uninvolved in his death.
And that’s pretty much that, so far as the plot is concerned; but as Joyce Falconer and Karen Fishwick banter their way through the possibilities, Munro creates a memorably rich landscape of past, present, and possible future for her two characters and their city. Their lives are encircled by the idea that things are always better elsewhere, and by the sense of being trapped in an economy that couldn’t care less.
But if that story comes to us, this time, with an Aberdeen accent, its resonances seem much wider, in what emerges as a powerful miniature play for today.
Final performance today.