Cleansed @ theSpace on North Bridge
Resident company at Weymouth College, Rummage Theatre are performing a newly written play built around real events. Cleansed observes the inner workings of places known as Magdalene Laundries. These were essentially detention – or even correction – centres for ‘fallen women’. You may think the idea of 'correcting’ behaviour through physical punishment was something belonging to the Middle Ages. And yet, the last Laundry closed in 1996.
The choice of subject matter is quite daring – even raw – and weighty for new writing. When asked, Rummage explained:
“We are very passionate about challenging each audience member’s moral judgements and sparking debate and when we came across the Magdalene Laundries, we felt compelled to expose the trauma these women suffered.”
Problems arose very quickly as soon as the company settled upon their subject. While Rummage wish to challenge people’s views about various issues, “we were very conscious that real people’s lives had been affected and whilst endeavouring to make a piece of engaging theatre, we did not wish to offend.”
Based on real facts, presumably still quite recent for Magdalene Laundry survivors, it was difficult to find people willing to share their experiences openly with the group.
Without eyes or ears on the inside, the accuracy of certain scenes comes into question, but one must remember: this is a play. It has no particular duty to be faithful to specific details any more than companies performing Shakespeare’s plays have to recreate period costume and accessories.