The Dishwashers at Theatre Royal

Starring David Essex and Rik Makarem, Morris Panych’s The Dishwashers is a contemporary bitter comedy which examines the situation of menial workers in an already tough economy.


Humorous yet hard-hitting, The Dishwashers delivers a tough message wrapped up in a layer of tragic humour.

In an evocative combination of tragedy and comedy, Panych tells an almost Orwellian tale of disaffected dreamers and a generation who find the working world a harsher place than they were told it would be.

A star cast: David Essex as Dressler and Rik Makarem as Emmett

A star cast: David Essex as Dressler and Rik Makarem as Emmett

Boasting a star cast, The Dishwashers introduces you to Emmett (Emmerdale’s Rik Makarem), an ex-banker who has recently lost his high-flying career in finance. We follow Emmett as, in desperation, he takes a menial job as a dishwasher and with the help of lifelong dishwashers Dressler (David Essex) and Moss (Andrew Jarvis), he tries to come to terms with the harsh realities of life at the bottom of the pile.

Moving swiftly from high points of comedy such as Dressler’s wise advice (“pubic hair in the lobster bisque [is] just the thing to avoid”) to other fatalistic philosophical pronouncements, The Dishwashers is unsettling, to say the least.

Fast paced script

Humour found where there should be none

The tone of the script changes so fast, tense Who Wants to be a Millionaire? music fading in and out with each shift, that often humour is found where there should be none: the sudden transitions to thick tension seeming out of place and almost nonsensical.

Despite making use of odd scene changes which involve the curtains rapidly blocking the view of the stage in a way reminiscent of a PowerPoint slide transition, the skill of the strong cast saves The Dishwashers from its abrupt script and unwarranted sense of tension.

David Essex.

David Essex  in a haunting comedy  unlike his 1970 Top 40 hits

Panych’s haunting comedy highlights the plight of the downtrodden dreamer and leaves the audience with the lingering pronouncement that for some, ‘that’s all there is; work, death. The rest is a detour.’