Nandita Shenoy and Johnny Wu in Washer/Dryer
Nandita Shenoy has the makings for a pretty good sitcom in her new play Washer/Dryer that opened last at Theatre Row in a Ma-Yi Theatre production.
If she wanted it to hit the small screen, she might be able to pitch it as a contemporary urban comedy about two newlyweds trying to figure out life together in a tiny New York studio after their impetuous Las Vegas marriage. Complicating their lives are a crew of quirky neighbors and relatives.
Indeed, Michael (played with increasing exasperation by Johnny Wu) and Sonya (playwright Shenoy) have just embarked on married life together in her studio apartment. They've known each other only three months, and he's just moved in after their quickie ceremony out West. The trouble is that he's not told his mother about the wedding and has even stalled his family meeting his new bride. Further complicating matters, Sonya can't tell anyone that Michael has moved in with her. There's a clause about the space being only single occupancy in her agreement with her co-op board.
It shouldn't be any surprise that both Michael's mom (a dry turn from Jade Wu), who just goes by her professional name, Dr. Lee, and Wendee (amusingly rendered by Annie McNamara), the nosy, self-involved president of the board arrive to complicate matters for the couple. So, too, does Sonya's downstairs neighbor, the flamboyantly gay Sam (a sweetly sassy turn from Jamyl Dobson). His presence actually helps the couple scrape by as they attempt to fool Wendee about Michael's presence; for a while, Michael has to pretend to be Sonya's best gay pal.
Some might wonder what the big deal is, and why the couple just doesn't plan to sell and move somewhere else. The reason that Sonya's not looking at this option is that she refuses to give up the place because it has a washer/dryer combo.
The scenario amuses and brings to mind some classic comedies, including Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park and Three's Company. Shenoy has a good ear for dialogue and sets up some funny situations. The problem, though, is that she does this at the expense of logic. For instance, how Michael moved his boxes of stuff in past unseen doorman Felipe, remains a mystery.
Nevertheless, Washer/Dryer, directed by Benjamin Karmine, breezes along as Johnny and Sonya swerve around the complications that crop up over the course of one rather frenetic evening, and although they squabble, they do manage to reach a new and happier place in their marriage. There are, no doubt, other issues that they'll face as they wend their way through life. What will her parents make of the marriage, and what about Michael's dad? Chances are this is a couple whose lives could be in a comedic spin for a while.
---- Andy Propst
Washer/Dryer plays at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street). For more information and tickets, visit: ma-yitheatre.org.