note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Beverly Creasey
It’s a trend. First, Image Theatre mounted a comedy set in a bar in an actual bar this past spring ---and now, Brooke M. Haney and Bobbie Steinbach bring Marsha Norman’s bittersweet “laundry play” to life in an actual, very busy launDRAMAt.
THE FROGS has been set twice in a swimming pool, in my time, and probably more, in Aristophanes.’ What about THE CHERRY ORCHARD at Arnold Arboretum, or better yet, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS in a ReMax office. After all, Mamet did a stint, at one time, as a broker. The possibilities are quite exciting ---but enough sorting of ideas. Let’s get to THIRD AND OAK: THE LAUNDROMAT.
Forget your mother’s admonitions about airing dirty laundry in public. THIRD AND OAK is such a compelling production that the night I saw it, a curious customer couldn’t resist becoming part of the All-Brite set. He perused the bulletin board and detergent vender several times and converted so many bills to change, that he could hardly budge with all those quarters in his pockets. Other customers nervously skirted the playing area and hurried through. Some peeked around the corner to watch the play unfold. One fellow wandered through, cell phone to his ear, completely unaware of his surroundings.
Haney and Susan Bigger ride the rhythm of the humming machines and whirring spin cycles for a tour de force performance about the power of women to help each other, even if we’re strangers. Director Steinbach exploits the small space to maximum advantage, grounding Bigger in the gravity of her emotions and sending Haney wheeling about on laundry carts and swinging off counters. She’s a bundle of nerves, desperate for an ear and Bigger delivers with the caring wisdom borne of experience. Haney’s character comes clean with an avalanche of doubt and pain, giving a powerful performance hovering on the edge between bravado and breakdown.
What a coup for the All-Brite Laundromat in Allston-Brighton, to be the site for this sparkling production. You’ll just have to hope they come to your neighborhood soon.