Sexy Laundry offers more than just Sex for Dummies

Insightful play at the Grand

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

A scene in bed from Sexy Laundry

THE 50 YEAR OLD VIRGIN(S). A married couple tries to rekindle its romance in Sexy Laundry, playing at the Grand Theatre. Try not to picture your parents.

4 stars

The Grand Theatre’s production of Sexy Laundry sounds like it would be dirty, but it’s far more heartfelt, offering insight into the lives of a middle-aged married couple trying to rediscover the passion in their relationship.

Starring two notable Canadian actors, the opening act begins with moving shapes under bedcovers and the emergence of Alice (Lynne Griffith) holding a copy of Sex for Dummies. Alice has decided she and her husband Henry (Roger Dunn) need to reconnect and books a weekend for them at The L, a posh hotel. Henry’s fixation on the thinness of the towels and Alice’s fixation on getting the “sexy” back make for scenes that are both hilarious and poignant.

A scene from Sexy Laundry

Alice and Henry are well constructed and explored. The audience learns about Henry’s inhibitions, both in the bedroom and at work, and Alice’s issues with aging and her feelings about their marriage. The play also explores social roles; it discusses how men age and become wise while women age to become invisible “except to life insurance brokers.”

The wit is placed strategically to make you laugh when you’re at the point of tears. An example: Alice: “I like flowers, Henry.” Henry: “I don’t like flowers; you spend $50 and they just die.” Alice: “I spent 25 years with you and you’re just going to die, too!”

Alice and Henry draw the audience in and the sense of voyeurism is broken by their frank comments and witty rejoinders. The two acts are easily separated, using Alice’s pronouncement that they need a divorce to break and shock the audience.

The simple set and lack of extras focus attention on the great dialogue between the two characters. The fantasy discussion, when Henry describes a real memory of Alice as opposed to a phantom encounter, becomes the catalyst for their reconnection.

Sexy Laundry is an insightful play for anyone who has been in a long-term relationship. It turns Sex for Dummies into an honest exploration of intimacy. Henry and Alice’s touching rediscovery of themselves and the comedic examination of middle-aged sexuality will leave you unable to look at your parents the same way again.

Sexy Laundry is playing at The Grand Theatre until Feb. 2.

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