The Asian-focused Ma-Yi Theatre Company debuts "Washer/Dryer,” a comedy written by Nandita Shenoy. NY1’s Roma Torre filed the following review.
At a time when ethnic sensitivities prompt routine calls to the PC police, the Asian focused Ma-Yi Theatre Company is staging a comedy that brazenly trumpets stereotypes. But before you blow a whistle, Nandita Shenoy, who wrote and stars in “Washer/Dryer,” has a keen ear for those nasty kernels of truth embedded in our multi-cultural stereotypes. So when you hear a line like, “She's not a psychotic stalker, she's an Asian mother,” it is not just funny, it really is kind of true.
Some people will sacrifice almost anything for a decent apartment. That is the basic premise in this play, which features a cast of five. But New York City is very much a character as well -- specifically the city's bizarre real estate codes and rules that allow, for example, a co-op board to mandate that apartments can only be occupied by single people.
With housing so scarce in the city, when a good studio comes along -- complete with a washer and dryer -- you pounce, even with those ridiculous edicts.
Sonya, of Indian extraction, who is newly married, lives in just such an apartment. We meet her Chinese-American husband Michael, her mother-in-law from hell, the strident co-op board president, and a gay friend and neighbor.
It is essentially a well-acted sitcom with a weak plot. But Shenoy gets strong laughs from her broadly-drawn characters, whom she paints with gleeful excess, and the director, Benjamin Kamine, picks up on her raucous humor with some genuinely amusing physical comedy.
It is refreshing to see a play that sends up the foibles of ethnic groups we do not often see on the stage but even more impressive is that Shenoy was able to find a universal humanity in her characters. We may have our differences, but what this charming little play teaches us is that at the end of the run, it all comes out in the wash.