Park Square Theatre’s new Andy Boss Thrust Stage is still under construction, but in the meantime the old stage is keeping warm with Sexy Laundry. The regional premiere of this work by Canadian playwright Michele Riml is an amusing and unexpectedly serious romp, if not quite as steamy as the title might imply.
The story of the play at first glance looks like something from a lifestyle magazine column: A middle-aged married couple decides to book a fancy hotel for the weekend to get away from their children and rekindle things in the bedroom. Alice (Charity Jones) and Henry (John Middleton) are armed with a copy of Sex for Dummies, a few props, and the sort of emotional and relational baggage that longtime couples tend to carry. Needless to say, the plans for sexcapades are more notional than consummated as other things interfere, and if you’re worried about taking youngsters–a faithful movie adaptation of the play wouldn’t hit a PG-13 rating these days. (Most of the relationship talk would probably pass over non-adult heads, however.)
The script is smart, the delivery flowing, and 90 minutes pass quickly. There’s no bathroom break, so plan accordingly; it’s a lot of show to sustain with just two people, but Jones and Middleton manage ably. Some of the funniest parts are when they try to enact suggestions straight out of Sex for Dummies, a portion that would have been welcome in larger helpings in Riml’s script. To the actors’ credit, they carry both the serious and comedic sections as they alternate between tiffs and inevitably fizzling attempts at romance. Many of the audience members seemed to take a certain schadenfreude at the comic misadventures, and whispered anecdotes amongst the audience were rife during the many bouts of laughter.
Sexy Laundry is a fun play, well rendered amidst a faux hotel setting. It’s pleasant to think that one might do better than Alice and Henry’s misadventures–but like most long-term couples, they manage to pull through all the yelling and bitter moments when things go awry. The laughs and tender moments are worth a few regret-tinged monologues hitting home.
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