Thursday, 8 November 2018

REVIEW: Sexy Laundry at the Tabard Theatre

Michele Riml's play Sexy Laundry was written in 2002 , and has apparently been produced multiple times since in the US, Canada and Eastern Europe but makes its UK premiere at the tiny Tabard Theatre above the pub in Chiswick. It's cultural references date the play as the couple remember Bosley and Charlie's Angels Tv series (1976 to 1981) and Babycham, the seventies sparkling drink but the topic, what happens after twenty five in a marriage to your love life, remains timeless.

Henry, played with the hangdog expression of Walter Matthau by Nick Raggett, works hard and hopes for a job promotion, likes to watch the news for an hour when he gets home and has settled into a routine of conservative sensibility through which he resists change. He has forgotten how to romance her. Alice, played by Felicity Duncan has planned a weekend in room 219 of the L hotel to spice up their life with the Sex for dummies handbook. She recalls that she never used to care how much he chewed, fantasises about sex with two men in a cafe or being on a cruise full of men between 40 and 60. She hopes the weekend will help him relax and loose his inhibitions but he is disturbed by her fantasies. However the romantic intention soon turn to a sort of Jeremy Kyle show and a battle of bickering and shouting at each other.

There are some good comedy moments like when Henry dances to some Saturday Night Fever style music or they use metaphors of a cucumber and Tzatziki or Ceasar salad to describe sex or when Alice's return from the bathroom surprises Henry but it all feels a little heavy handed and cliched. The play Honour at the Park provides a much more interesting exploration of love in a long marriage relationship.

There is a very good hotel bedroom set designed by Anna Bliss Scully with a large raised double bed , white carpet and curtains and the lighting design by Holly Ellis both reflects the hotel lighting but also takes us into their fantasy world. Director Phoebe Barran makes sure the couple throw themselves whole heartedly into the adult situation comedy and we are kept guessing for most of the eighty minutes running time about what the outcome will be of their weekend away.

The plays takes the idea of "washing your dirty laundry in public" and sets in front of the audience conversations that must take place privately in many long marriages but also reminds us that the memories of what has passed between a couple in their life together should be recalled and celebrated. It is funny and well acted but I was not engaged by the characters although to care enough about the outcome.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★

Seat: Row G | Price of Ticket: £23
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