2012 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: The Washing Machine (Red Betty Theatre)

The Washing Machine

The Washing Machine is a play about culture clashes. It’s currently playing as part of Toronto’s Next Stage Theatre Festival.

It’s the story about “Isabelle”, played by Cydney Penner. She is a woman raised in England who returns to India and presides over a coconut farm.

Isabelle is a repulsive woman. She has no emotional attachment to anything other than herself. Penner does an extraordinary job portraying the self-absorbed “queen”. She tries to homogenize everything in her world, at times using a shotgun or axe. If you think American Imperialism is nasty, try sampling the English variety.

I found Aparajit Bhattacharjee magnificent as “James”, Isabelle’s significant other. He’s a womanizer, a drunk, and completely under Isabelle’s thumb. He’s a likeable yet flawed man, with a hint of Austin Powers.

The story is something that could easily fit into the British soap opera Coronation Street. There are plenty of scandalous love affairs and feuds, a neighbouring convent and even a couple of “proper punch-ups”.

I really liked the set. It reminded me of a velodrome. Most characters alternate between being “inside the loop” and off-stage. Isabelle mostly remains inside, the world revolving around her.

Playwright Radha Menon wrote The Washing Machine from her teenage experiences living on a farm. I worked on a farm as a teenager yet couldn’t relate to much of anything in The Washing Machine. The play reminded me more of a Southern plantation before slavery was abolished.

The Washing Machine was sold out the night I attended, so buy get your tickets early to avoid disappointment.

– All Next Stage Theatre Festival performances are being held at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst)
– Tickets for all shows are $15 for Evening Performances (7:00 and after start time), $12 for Afternoon Performances (6:59 or before start time) and $10 for Ante-chamber performances
-Tickets are available in person, by phone at 416-966-1062 or online
– Showtimes for The Washing Machine  are:
JAN 5 / 9:00
JAN 6 / 6:45
JAN 7 / 9:00
JAN 8 / 3:00
JAN 10 / 8:30
JAN 11 / 6:15
JAN 12 / 9:15
JAN 14 / 5:00
JAN 15 / 9:15