Created by Simone Jubyna and cast. With Seth Bockley, Mike Driscoll, Laura Grey, Meghan Strell and Larry Underwood. Walkabout Theater at Speed Wash Laundromat.
We've all tried to remove our underwear with our pants still on; let's not pretend otherwise. When you're in public, after all, that's the only discreet way to do it. Strell does it in a laundromat while talking on a cell phone. This is a sign both that she's too busy not to multitask, and that anyone self-important enough to make a cell-phone call from a laundromat is also, ironically, too self-conscious to reveal her silky unmentionables, even though we all know she wears them.
Psycho-So-Matic, a groovy, hour-long movement piece that's being performed in a small, narrow laundromat in Ravenswood, has plenty such observations about human contradiction, and some sneaky choreography to boot. Performed by a cast of five, the show is almost completely without dialogue (some washing instructions on the wall that get shouted aloud are about as wordy as it gets), and takes us through the emotional journey of a quintet of strangers doing their laundry at the same time in the same space. Both the reality of their drudge work and their fantasy lives are exploited as they crawl in and out of jumbo-size dryers and dance on the three connecting laundry tables that create an informal runway.
There's more silliness here than intellectual rigor, but the syncopated tumbling of the machines underscores the piece with a warm, industrial heartbeat that pumps throughout, and the cast stays in sync with it. The fact that this near-dance performance probably wouldn't work outside the laundromat would normally be a criticism, but Jubyna and company have made the Speed Wash Laundromat their cocreator, allowing it to inform the play and make aesthetic—even emotional—contributions. The resulting collaboration is a delightful exploration of what we have to do to come clean with ourselves.—Christopher Piatt