Brooklyn Laundry

Written and Directed by John Patrick Shanley

Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 4.14.24
Manhattan Theatre Club at New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street


by Shani R. Friedman on 4.11.24


Brooklyn Laundry David Zayas and Cecily Strong in Brooklyn Laundry. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.


BOTTOM LINE: Strong performances enhance this somewhat rushed new dramedy about regrets and taking chances.

Playwright John Patrick Shanley is having quite a season—a revival in November of Danny And The Deep Blue Sea, the current Broadway revival of Doubt, and now the world premiere of Brooklyn Laundry. This last was inspired, according to Shanley's program note, by a laundromat losing one of his bags of clothes. He and the proprietor waited weeks to no avail, leaving him "at the mercy of many forces" and to wonder who was enjoying his sheets. "One of [those forces] has commandeered my laundry and my imagination."

Owen (David Zayas, recently Tony-nominated for Cost Of Living) and Fran (Cecily Strong, from SNL) have a not-quite meet-cute when she comes into his laundromat. She's been drawing off a large credit she’s had there since one of her bags of laundry went missing six months before. They're both more than a little bit bruised, he emotionally and physically, and she beaten down by work, family and a recent break-up.While Owen chooses to "emphasize the good over bad," Fran is spikey, and distracted by an upcoming trip to see family. So when Owen suddenly asks her out, Fran initially says no, then reconsiders—but only once she returns from her trip.

But just as Fran is contemplating potential romance, the universe has other plans. Fran's sister Trish (Florencia Lozano) is in a trailer home, with a drug addict ex-husband, two kids, and terminal brain cancer. The question of what will happen to Trish's kids looms over Fran's visit. Yet Trish, who's had time to reflect on the shouldas and wouldas in her 48 years, tells Fran to not "drag your feet" about Owen and that she should "do what you have to do. Make your move." Lozano is terrific as a woman who is okay with her decisions, but grieves that it's all happened too quickly.

Back in New York, Fran shows up to dinner with Owen on mushrooms—"I want to change the way I see things a little bit," Fran offers, and shares the chocolate with Owen. They have a free-ranging discussion, from frank talk about his anxieties about sex, to her indecisiveness. And Owen then surprises her with her long-lost bag of laundry. She's amazed and thinks "maybe anything is possible." But just as things are looking up, Fran's other sister Susie (Andrea Syglowski) levels Fran with her own curve ball that could threaten everything. 

Shanley has packed a lot into the 80-minute running time, and as much as drama thrives on conflict, I would argue that the tragic parts and soap opera aspects could be scaled back. So much plot within such a brief run time doesn't allow for enough character development or a few welcome breaths. But the wish to shake off the ache of loneliness and heartbreak, and to get on with a life that's been on hold, resonates. Strong and Zayas bring warmth and authenticity to characters who seem an unlikely match, at least at first, and they make the urgency to not only create, but hold onto, a connection keenly felt. Life can feel too short, but there are moments of joy that can make all the difference, and you have to grab at them.

(Brooklyn Laundry plays at New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street, through April 14, 2024. The running time is 80 minutes with no intermission. Remaining performances are Thursday at 7; Friday at 8; Saturday at 2 and 8; and Sunday at 2. Tickets are $129 and are available at or by calling 212-581-1212.)

Brooklyn Laundry is written and directed by John Patrick Shanley. Set Design by Santo Loquasto. Costume Design by Suzy Benzinger. Lighting Design by Brian MacDevitt. Original Music and Sound Design by John Gromada. Production Stage Manager is Kevin Bertolacci. Stage Manager is Denise Cardarelli.

The cast is Florencia LozanoCecily Strong, Andrea Syglowski, and David Zayas.