Deborah Louise Ortiz's Dirty Laundry is an obvious and formulaic exercise -- take two women of opposite temperaments and situations, mix, set, and see what develops. Yet good intentions and high spirits count for something, and playwright Ortiz, who played the married-woman-with-kids stuck in the rut that's her life, and Linda Ortiz, as the younger woman who has her own business designing lingerie, threw themselves wholeheartedly into the proceedings (directed by Melissa Delaney Del Valle).
That reality is not an issue here was obvious from the start -- Diane and Liz seem to be the only people in the city (apart from a Mrs. Santos, heard only) who frequent the particular laundromat, where they meet and strike up the friendship that will have its ups and downs over the course of the play. When the scene changes to each one's apartment, they have extended monologues that provide exposition and plot advancement but little of surprise in the way of character development.
Nor were they particularly adept at folding clothes. But there was one moment, essentially a throwaway gag, where Diane, clearly unhappy and upset, took a bit of clean laundry she was folding and raised it to her face to wipe away a tear. That she did something like that was funny, and character-revealing. Whether the bit was written, directed, or an acting inspiration, Dirty Laundry could have used more of it.
Diane did have another nice bit where she danced with a broom, but mostly we got Liz's expounding on how happy she is that she's single and doesn't intend to get tied down, and Diane's longing for the early days of her marriage but settling for her husband's working late and canceling their anniversary celebration. Liz did present a wild array of bras and panties of her own design (the uncredited costumer deserves some credit for digging these things up). But Liz also might want to check out Hedwig and the Angry Inch to see the result of placing certain undies in a hot dryer. A line of dialog meant to explain how there were no ramifications to this didn't quite cut it.
As for what's meant to be a plot surprise, what is surprising is that with all the stuff these two shared, certain information wasn't. But it was nice to get the feel in the end that the characters' horizons have indeed expanded, and in ways they had not anticipated. Deborah Louise Ortiz was especially sweet conveying Denise's new sensibilities, and it was obvious that Linda Ortiz's Liz was still capable of shaking a wild groove thing, even after the curveball that life has thrown her.
The set and lighting (uncredited) were simple but effective, with the washing machines and dryers turning around to reveal apartment furnishings.
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Copyright 2002 David Mackler