BWW Reviews: Big Load of Talent Tossed Into WASHER/DRYER Spins Out a Clean, Hot, Fresh, Finished Piece of Entertainment

By: Feb. 20, 2015
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Washer/Dryer/by Nandita Shenoy/directed by Peter J. Kuo/David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts/thru March 15, 2015

Perfect mix of talents all-around combine for East West Players' well-produced world premiere of playwright Nandita Shenoy's witty Washer/Dryer. Director Peter J. Kuo whips this talented cast of five through a fast, even paced ninety-minutes of social issues served up on a tasty elixir of laughter.

Brand-new newlywed/budding actress Sonya prizes her washer/dryer combo inside her New York co-op (a.k.a. "the house that yeast built") for more than materialistic reasons. Having to adjust without it has ramifications that might take priority over moving her new husband Michael into her regulated single-dwelling unit. With Wendee, a busy-body co-op board member constantly snooping for regulation violations, Sonya neglects to share the news of her recent quickie marriage to anyone in her co-operative;, not even her gay best friend Sam, who lives in the unit directly below. Turns out Sonya had avoided telling Michael her real living situation; now begging him to go along with her charade to her co-op co-habitors. Still reeling from Sonya's deception, Michael's surprised by his mom Dr. Lee's unexpected visit. Seems Michael did some truth avoiding himself as Dr. Lee's curious why Michael hasn't introduced his new bride to her as yet.

Ewan Chung (Michael) and Rachna Khatau (Sonya) form a very cute couple as Chung and Khatau exude chemistry. Easy to see sparks definitely exist that made the two get hitched in Vegas after only a few months together. Their bickering and fighting totally believable and understandable, all things told. Love the way they play off each other in their making-it-up-as-they-go-along with Wendee. Sonya's excuse to Wendee for Michael being there-- he just broke up from his boyfriend and needed a place to crash. After a few blinks of the eye, Michael hysterically plays along turning the tables on the now defensive board member.

Karen Huie's a total gem as the mother trying to get her "strayed" son back. Dr. Lee (not Mrs. Lee!) takes an instant dislike to Sonya calling out all the Indian beauty's perceived faults. To Huie's Dr. Lee, her special home cooked meal will solve any disputes between her son and herself. Experiencing Huie singing to herself The Beatles' "Day Tripper" while cooking worth's the whole price of admission itself! And there's also Huie's unconventional entrance when no one's home.

Corey Wright commands the stage as Sonya's best gay friend Sam. His physical comedy bits kill, especially his sari-wrapping dance. (Actually, Khatau's facial tics to the word "married" comparably evokes much laughter.) Wright has much fun taking full advantage of touching Chung in his playing along with Sonya's "Michael is gay" story.

Last, but certainly not least, Nancy Stone totally annoys as a meddling co-op board member should. Stone readily exhibits the unconscious deep, dark reasonings behind Wendee's unpopular actions. Washer/Dryer 's most priceless scene has to be Stone's Wendee's nosing around while Huie's Dr. Lee cooks. The two get into an involved conversation not realizing that each is talking about different situations of their respective sons. Dr. Lee laments about Michael marrying a non-Chinese and in Vegas yet. Wendee's discussing her relationship with her gay son Cameron comparing it with Dr. Lee's and Michael. Washer/Dryer, and especially in this scene, vividly illustrates that similarities can outweigh the differences various cultures/beliefs might have. Everything said- in this conversation and throughout the play- has dual meanings applicable to opposing situations. Very clever take on pre-conceived prejudice, exclusion, omitting truth, and motherly love. Cultural bias and distinctions get aired and misconceptions corrected. Opposite can attract and complement rather than divide and battle.

Set designer Arturo Betanzos' very functional detailed New York co-op set includes all the perfect exits and entrances and hiding spots.

I'd recommend airing your dirty laundry at this Washer/Dryer. Everything will come out brightly colored, spotless and fresh.


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