By Daniel Skora
There were many journeys – physical, spiritual, temporal, and mystical – that T.S. Elliot had in mind when he wrote these words for his famous poem “Four Quartets” : And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time. And though it may seem strange to begin a review of a play that has the words sexy and laundry in the title with such scholarly locution, Elliot’s sentiment is entirely apropos for the journey undertaken by Henry and Alice – husband and wife, breadwinner and homemaker – as they celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
Tipping Point Theatre is currently presenting “Sexy Laundry”, the Michigan Premier of playwright Michele Riml’s romantic comedy about a married couple experiencing the loss of intimacy in their marriage.
Alice (Sandra Birch) has raised the couple’s three children while working in real estate. Henry (Dave Davies) has provided financial security for the family through his job as an engineer. Like many couples with family responsibilities, they have neglected their relationship. Nowhere is that neglect more pronounced than in their sex life.
Henry is content to be in the rut his daily routine provides: work, dinner, one hour of news, and off to bed to do it all over again on the morrow. Now that the kids don’t need the attention they once did, Alice wants more from her husband. For the anniversary, she’s booked a suite at a very expensive high-end hotel. She’s made sure that she and the room will have everything that’s needed for a glorious night of passion: Pinot Grigio on ice; a circular bed with Italian sheets; rose petals to sprinkle about; slinky lingerie; and for those sensual techniques that the straight-laced couple could never begin to imagine on their own, a well-thumbed copy of “Sex for Dummies” that Alice has checked out of the library.
In the course of Alice’s attempt to spur Henry on, the audience gets treated to some of their hilarious attempts at foreplay. Mutual massage, fantasies and role playing, blindfolded groping, even giving names to their privates are just some of the things they give a try at.
When none produce the desired effect, Alice makes one last ditch attempt to whip up a little sexual frenzy in her complacent lover by playing dress-up. Though it seems to offer a glimmer of hope, a pass in front of a mirror makes Alice realize that what she’s been trying to accomplish does not represent what she or Henry are about. The tenor of the play quickly shifts, with Henry attempting to calm his distraught wife. The two wax nostalgic over their years spent together and all the good things they have experienced and accomplished. With tender care, Henry recalls the first time he saw his wife, that girl on the beach who became the love of his life. And the two are taken back to the place where their journey began, and they come to know it for the very first time.
“Sexy Laundry” is directed by Beth Torrey. The simple set, a virgin-white round bed with accompanying chair and table is by Lex van Blommestein. Costume design is by Katherine Nelson, sound by Sonja Marquis, and lighting by Rachael Nardecchia. Properties are of Natalie LaCroix and stage manager is Tracy L. Spada.
“Sexy Laundry” is a show you won’t want to miss. See it for Michele Riml’s brilliantly written script; see it for the equally brilliant performances of Birch and Davies, two of the area’s finest, who really knock this one out of the park; see it because there’s nothing really funnier than sex, especially when the participants are a couple of amateurs; see it because you’re either in the same boat as Henry and Alice or because your ship will some day drop anchor at their port; but above all, see it because you won’t see a funnier, more entertaining or true to life show this theatre season.
“Sexy Laundry” runs through February 26th. Tickets are available online at www.tippingpointtheatre.com or at the theatre’s box office, which is open Mon. through Fri. 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 90 minutes prior to all performances, based on availability. Tipping Point Theatre is located at 361 E. Cady Street in Northville, telephone @ 1.248.347.0003.