Dallas actors Wendy Welch and Bob Hess struggle to make laughs happen as they ham their way through the one-act two-hander Sexy Laundry by Canadian playwright Michele Riml, now on in a production directed broadly by Terry Martin in WaterTower Theatre's studio in Addison. Even these talented pros, so funny together as brother and sis in Christopher Durang's Chekhovian spoof Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Uptown last season, can't make a silky comedy out of a sow's ear of a play.
Sexy Laundry borrows Neil Simon's old Plaza Suite set-up about a middle-aged couple who check into a posh hotel for what the wife hopes will be a naughty weekend. Sexy Laundry's Alice has brought along filmy lingerie and a copy of Sex for Dummies. Henry isn't as concerned about his lack of libido as he is about the price of the room and the flimsy towels in the bath.
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Instead of getting drunk and watching Spankvision to set the mood, boring old Alice suggests erotic massage. Henry balks at the silliness. A shouting match ensues, with hubster and wife vomiting out petty resentments built up over 25 years of wedded misery. He calls her fat. She says he didn't deserve the promotion he didn't get at work. Ouch.
Too briefly, Sexy Laundry allows Alice to ruminate on the way pop culture treats women who aren't young. "Where are the vital, sexy 50-year-olds in movies?" she wails. "Women my age are invisible!" Yes, they are, and dippy little plays like this don't help.
Too quickly — because the show only runs 90 minutes — they're kissing and making up. Henry tells Alice she's sexiest when she's folding laundry at home. In the play, she doesn't slug him for that.
Sexy Laundry continues through February 22 at WaterTower Theatre Studio, 15650 Addison Rd., Addison. Tickets, $27.50, 972-450-6232 or watertowertheatre.org.