Arts Club Theatre Company

Sexy Laundry

by Michele Riml

Venue: Granville Island Stage Dates: 14 October - 13 November 2004

Reviewer: Elizabeth Paterson




Director Andrew McIlroy Set design Shawn Derksen Costume design Andrew McIlroy Lighting design Rebekah Johnson Stage Manager Louis-Marie Bournival




Two of Vancouver's best actors sparkle in Michele Riml's Sexy Laundry, the romantic comedy that opened the Arts Club's Granville Island season. Susinn McFarlen as Alice and Allan Morgan as Henry outdo themselves in this look at love, marriage and the passage of time.

Alice has booked a room in a trendy hotel hoping to restore zest to their mundane marriage. Henry has obligingly dragged himself along, little realizing that Alice has brought with her a sex manual.

The exercises in Sex for Dummies do not work out exactly as advertised. A massage produces quotidien nagging, so familiar to Henry and Alice they do not even raise their voices. Familiar to the audience too. As words such as "flowers" and "dancing,""news," and "couch" flew across the stage, gales of laughter swept through the audience.

They soldier on chapter by chapter. Alice tries fantasy. She manages this very well but Henry can't get his French maid past the doorway. It is one of the many delights of the evening when Alice tries saying rude words and fails abysmally.

But this play is more than a series of clever and amusing sketches. With each new technique, Michele Riml ups the ante, and Alice and Henry make new discoveries. Both are stopped short by self perception as home truths are hurled, and old hurts expressed. Both also have moments of great generosity. It is a measure of Riml's cleverness and Allan Morgan's skill that one of the funniest scenes of the evening is also one of the most tender. Henry tries to dance, stiffly and repressed at first, gradually becoming wildly abandoned. He does it for love.

The set, though not immediately recognizable as a hotel room, was striking and stylish with a few surprises of its own.

Sexy Laundry is by turns funny, touching, sad, joyful, surprising and familiar. The acting is a joy to watch. Susinn McFarlane and Allan Morgan both give subtle, many-layered performances. Every change in pace, each exposure of trait or emotion is added to what we already know of each character, so by the end Henry and Alice are as complex and contradictory as real life. Like the reading-glasses that are companionably passed back and forth with the book, regardless of the emotional temperature, what Henry and Alice have been looking for has been with them all the time.

This well-directed, intelligent, and very amusing performance may well add spice to your own relationship.

2004 Elizabeth Paterson