Tag Archives: Phoebe Barran

Sexy Laundry – 3 Stars

Sexy Laundry

Sexy Laundry

Tabard Theatre

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

Sexy Laundry

Tabard Theatre until 25th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Lady With a Dog | ★★★★ | March 2018
Sophie, Ben, and Other Problems | ★★★★ | April 2018
Sirens of the Silver Screen | ★★★ | June 2018


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Review of Tryst – 4 Stars



The Tabard Theatre

Reviewed – 17th October 2017



“what has begun as a quaint romantic drama reveals itself to be an unpredictable thriller”


Based on a true story “Tryst”, which first ran in the West End twenty years ago, is revived at the Tabard Theatre. Starring Natasha J Barnes (who notably came to prominence when she stepped into the lead role of Funny Girl last year) and Fred Perry it is a passion-fuelled Edwardian thriller.

The two characters kick off by addressing the audience, laying bare their motives. Neatly delivered by the two actors, this device does initially give the audience an easy ride by taking away the need for a certain amount of guesswork. However, just as we are thinking that there is little room for intrigue, the dynamics shift and what has begun as a quaint romantic drama reveals itself to be an unpredictable thriller.

Adelaide Pinchin, a backroom milliner, is seduced by serial fraudster George Love. At first we wonder at the ease with which this happens; her gullibility is a touch unbelievable. So it is with a sense of relief that we see a suppressed intelligence break through when Adelaide eventually sees her antagonist for what he really is. From there on she demonstrates that she can give as good as she gets.

Natasha J Barnes plays the desperation of an unempowered, lonely soul to perfection. Barnes is a formidable stage presence, yet has the gift of restraint that allows the subtle shades of her portrayal to shine through. The range of emotions, from naïve wide-eyed wonder through to bitter anger is beautifully defined. Fred Perry’s George Love has an equally sweeping journey. The pair are a great match in this cat and mouse potboiler. Yet who is the cat and who is the mouse is never fixed. Until maybe the end, but it would be unfair of me to reveal too much.

There is a fine balance of rom-com and psycho-thriller built into the ninety minutes. The comedy’s main source is George Love’s outrageous lies. An unashamedly unscrupulous misogynist he is quite out of place in today’s society, even at times provoking a groan of mock disgust from a particularly vocal audience member. Then the tables turn and the switch to melodrama is seamless under Phoebe Barran’s stylish direction, enhanced by the thrilling moods of Matt Drury’s lighting, Max Dorey’s set and Dave McSeveny’s sound design.

Barnes may be the main selling point of this production but there is no hint of stunt casting. It is clear that her accolades are deserved; yet she is still part of the whole. “Tryst” is the first in-house production since an extensive refurbishment. The Tabard has always been a gem of a venue. This compelling production maintains its consistency, style and production values. A tryst well worth making a date for.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Alastair Hilton





is at The Tabard Theatre until 5th November



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