Review: Sexy Laundry, at Thousand Islands Playhouse, Gananoque.

by Lynn on September 12, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Played at the Thousand Islands Playhouse, Firehall Theatre until August 5- Sept. 4, 2021.

Written by Michele Riml

Directed by Krista Jackson

Set and costumes by Judith Bowden

Lighting by Michelle Ramsay

Sound by John Gzowski

Cast: Sarah Dodd

Shawn Wright

NOTE: Bravo to Brett Christopher, the Managing Artistic Director of Thousand Islands Playhouse, for getting eager audiences back to the theatre, by carefully, safely presenting this play inside the theatre, in which the audience was safely distanced. Ushers took us to our seats and at the end, ushered us out row by row. I did not have one second of anxiety. The show was so popular it was held over for a few more performances past its original closing date of Aug. 29. The classy press representative gave me a review ticket even though it was for the second last performance.

The Story. Alice and Henry have been married for 25 years and the zip has gone out of their marriage. Each is disappointed with their lives and keeps it to themselves. Alice suggests they go away to a hotel for a ‘dirty’ weekend “to see what’s still left of us.” Henry goes along with the plan.

The Production. Judith Bowden’s set is of a modern hotel room that has remote control devices for all sorts of stuff, from the TV to sound to probably the curtains. Getting the right one to work is frustrating for Henry (Shawn Wright). He complains about the thin towels.

Alice (Sarah Dodd) is eager for this to work. She has a well-thumbed copy of Sex for Dummies (I assume, I didn’t quite see the title of the book from the side where I was, but it had been perused quite often, it seemed) with suggestions of how to turn on your partner. From giving a massage to one’s partner, to creating a fantasy and erotica, Alice and Henry are eager to make this work. Well, actually Alice is. Henry, as beautifully played by Shawn Wright, is just frustrated, aggravated and fed up with it all. But he loves Alice and wants to do right. As Alice, Sarah Dodd has that buoyancy of someone desperate to save their marriage. She is as ‘up’ as Henry is ‘down.’

Judith Bowden also created the costumes. At first they seem a bit drab for a couple wanting to put the zip back in their marriage. But as time goes on there are some costume surprises that nothing will make me give away. However, there is a riding crop. It’s had a presence on social media so one can’t ignore it. A riding crop. There are no horses in Sexy Laundry. As Alice, Sarah Dodd displays a proficiency with that riding crop that is both impressive and frightening. Shawn Wright as Henry rises to the occasion when that crop is cracked against furniture.

Because this couple knows each other so well—and Dodd and Wright are like watching two champions batting the dialogue back and forth with skill and nuance—they know each other’s weak spots and short hand. They listen but sometimes don’t hear. And then they do. It’s all so natural in Michele Riml’s very funny, touching play. As with anything it’s conversation, trust, love and listening that gets you through in a relationship. Krista Jackson’s smart, energetic, direction keeps the humour and heart of the show pumping and beating along. The staging is effortless in establishing how well these characters know each other. And Krista Jackson is not afraid to have that edge of aggravation be present in the actors’ performances of these characters who are on edge because of their troubled marriage.

Comment. Sexy Laundry is a sweet play about a serious subject. It is the perfect play to see after a long time in confinement, in uncertainty, in fraught times. It’s produced and performed beautifully, in a theatre that takes care of its patrons. Bravo to all.  

Thousand Islands Playhouse presents:

Closed: Sept. 4, 2021.

Running Time: 80 minutes.

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