By Margret Echeverria
Sometimes you just want to be entertained, to laugh a lot, not be required to think too hard and just simply enjoy yourself at the theatre. No crying. No deep philosophical existential questions. Washer/Dryer is just this kind of light delight – good clean fun like a fresh load of towels straight from the laundry.
We are treated to the set (designed by Anshuman Bhatia) before the show opens and any New Yorker will know exactly where she is. Meet young Sonya (Nadita Shenoy), a sweet, smart young woman. The acquisition of this apartment is the greatest accomplishment of her life; not only is the location ideal, but the coop board voted her in despite her occupation as a commercial actress and her (gasp!) Indian heritage. If this were not enough to impress you, the living space is also equipped with a fully operational stacked washer/dryer appliance. What single woman in New York could ask for anything more?
A husband, maybe? We meet Michael (Johnny Wu), an adorable young man of Chinese heritage as soon as the lights come up on Washer/Dryer and we instantly love him. He’s an idealist and he was so taken by Sonya recently that he married her in Las Vegas just a few short weeks ago. It takes just this amount of time for our newlyweds to confront the fact that Sonya allows the doorman to announce Michael whenever he returns to the building from work because Sonya hasn’t told Michael that her perfect studio apartment is “single occupancy only” by virtue of the coop by-laws.
The situation quickly becomes hilarious: It’s New York; here the convenience of an in home washer/dryer can realistically rival young love! But enter Michael’s mother, Dr. Lee (Jade Wu), who believes her son is a gift from God and suspects Sonya of all other sins assumed by a mother in law, chief of which is marrying her son. But Sonya has her own authority figures opposed to her marriage: Wendee (Annie Mcnamara), President of the Coop Board and anxious housewife who suffers all her responsibilities of the board and motherhood to the point of being a delicious hot mess and Sonya’s best friend Sam (Jamyl Dobson), also a resident in the building who isn’t so much opposed to the marriage as he is to silly secrets.
The witty dialogue covering subversive prejudices and the all-around absurdity of New York life is a pleasure, but Nandita Shenoy, our lead actress and playwright does not stop there. Shenoy loves the physical art of a French comedy of entrances and exits almost as much as I do. The secrets soon become manifested physically on stage as doors open and close and characters hide and reveal themselves in a delightful choreography of love, white lies, possession, entitlement and rules of law. The audience just falls into fits of laughter and in love with everyone on the stage hoping that everyone can win in the end.
This cast is perfect. Supporting cast members Dobson and McNamara will make you scream with laughter. Jade Wu’s performance was multi-layered comic timing fueled by what felt like genuine love. You’ll want Shenoy and Johnny Wu’s characters to be the guests at you next dinner party. Take your mom to see this.
Washer/Dryer – By Nandita Shenoy; directed by Benjamin Kamine
WITH: Nadita Shenoy (Sonya), Jamyl Dobson (Sam), Jade Wu (Dr. Lee), Johnny Wu (Michael) and Annie McNamara (Wendee).
Set by Anshuman Bhatia; costumes by Dede Ayite; lighting by Jonathan Cottle; sound by Miles Polaski; production stage manager, Shelly Miles; Production Manager, Libby Jensen; a New York Premiere by the Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning MA-YI THEATER COMPANY, Producer, Corinne Woods. Through February 21 at the Beckett Theatre at Theater Row, 410 W. 42 Street, 212-714-2442, theatrerow.org/beckett-theatre. Running time: 90 minutes.