Sexy Laundry at Grand Theatre
Saving 25 Years of Marriage
Live! On Stage!
Review by Mary Alderson
By Michele Riml
Performed by Roger Dunn and Lynne Griffin
Directed by Rosemary Dunsmore
Grand Theatre Production
Grand Theatre, London
January 15 to February 2, 2008
In the Grand’s current production, Sexy Laundry, a couple in their 50s spend a weekend at an upscale hotel trying to get romance back into their marriage. In the end, the audience might wonder if they succeeded – although the playwright intended they would. Instead, it seems like they just proved that they are comfortable together. While it may not be romantic, being comfortable is not a bad thing.
It’s the story of Alice (Lynne Griffin) and Henry (Roger Dunn), both fifty-plus, who have been married 25 years. Alice convinces Henry to spend a weekend together at an expensive hotel to rekindle the flame in their marriage. She brings along a copy of “Sex for Dummies” which she picked up at the library. This, of course, has to produce laughs. Alice has marked pages with sticky notes, and Henry is embarrassed about leafing through the book. They try massage, sharing fantasies, and exploring each other’s bodies while blindfolded, but nothing is really working for them.
The story moves along with some tender moments, and some arguments that get nasty. They even threaten divorce, but in the end they finally seem to be comfortable with each other.
Both Griffin and Dunn are good in the roles. Both have extensive acting experience, and have worked together in the past, once as a couple on the TV show ‘Til Death Do Us Part. They also both appeared in the Bob & Doug McKenzie cult classic, Strange Brew.
The pair handles the lines well, and the play offers some very funny moments. In those moments, both actors demonstrate very good comedic timing. And they have the facial expressions to create comedy. Carrying a two character play is a lot of work – copious lines to learn, with never a break from being on stage. But both actors call on their experience to pull it off. Director Rosemary Dunsmore has brought out interesting characters from both Griffin and Dunn.
So if there’s a weakness with Sexy Laundry, it’s in the script. Too much of it doesn’t ring true. If a couple really needs Sex for Dummies, then it is amazing that they’ve lasted 25 years together. Henry, who emphatically says he hates dancing, is then dancing around the stage. Alice’s black leather outfit is just too far over the top. The most difficult to accept are the gender stereotypes – she’s worried about her bulging midriff, he is concerned about climbing the career ladder. And their children, the one thing they truly have in common, are glossed over.
At times the script takes the pair on a roller-coaster ride – they have a affectionate moment, immediately followed by a fight. The emotional changes are too abrupt.
So while there is a good premise, with a first rate cast and periodic moments of laughter, a neater script could have sustained the comedy.
Sexy Laundry continues at the Grand Theatre in London until February 2. Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593.
Mary Alderson offers her view of area theatre in this column on a regular basis. As well as being a fan of live theatre, she is a former journalist who is currently employed with the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations.