Reviewed – 6th November 2018
“Riml’s comedic writing is good, though decidedly safe”
Sexy Laundry feels like familiar territory; it is a story of a couple’s attempt to rekindle their relationship. But familiar stories are hard to do well but Felicity Duncan and Nick Raggett’s sensitive performances bring this relationship to life. With shows like the BBC’s Wanderlust airing, a play about difficult marriages and unfulfilling sex seems timely. So let’s talk about sex, between ordinary people.
Written by Michele Riml and staged in the US, Canada and across Eastern Europe, Sexy Laundry’s themes have had a wide appeal. Alice (Felicity Duncan) and Henry (Nick Raggett) have found themselves growing apart, a vast chasm of daily chores, children and work troubles lying between them. To relearn intimacy they must talk, something that turns out to be quite hard and humorously so. With some wonderful lines (‘I think you’re confusing a sexual fantasy with a tampax advert.’), the comedy plays with the differences between two people that can go unspoken for years.
The Tabard Theatre’s small performance space provides for an intimate setting as the actors are on stage for eighty minutes, alone, in a hotel bedroom. Indeed, the space takes on that alien luxury of a hotel, equipped with outrageously thin towels, absurdly plush flooring and an array of settings for ‘mood’ lighting. There are also some wonderful moments of physical theatre (and of dancing) in which the lighting transforms the set and Duncan and Raggett’s comedic prowess really comes to the fore.
Riml’s comedic writing is good, though decidedly safe. Sexy Laundry is a play about some very ordinary middle-class and middle-aged people. Other than the fact that we know that Henry is an engineer and Alice an estate agent, they are characters who seem devoid of any idiosyncrasy. Though this makes their squabbles relatable, it also makes their relationship one that is stunted by rather stereotypical gender norms.
Sexy Laundry is a careful comedy about disappointment, fantasy and intimacy. This is a tight production in a great little theatre. The cast’s performances are consistent and convincing, with some moments of real flare. Together, they tell a story of two people who struggle to talk about sex because they have, it seems, always played it safe. Unfortunately so does the comedy.
Reviewed by Tatjana Damjanovic
Photography by Andreas Grieger
Tabard Theatre until 25th November
Previously reviewed at this venue: