Capital Fringe Review: ‘Married Sex’ by Sydney-Chanele Dawkins

The combination of sharing one’s vulnerability into insightful personal storytelling is not only an art.  It’s a gift.

Married Sex is an engaging one-woman show based on a true tale, written and performed by award-winning solo performer Laura Zam, and directed by Shirley Serotsky that is currently playing at the Fort Fringe Bedroom as a part of The Capital Fringe Festival.

Laura Zam.
Laura Zam.

This is a moving confessional memoir where Zam plays 28 different characters struggling with sex, and gracefully lets the audience know that part is fact and (a very small part) is fiction. No matter, one can think of what transpires as an absorbing evening of health education for adults. The feelings, situations, and concerns addressed are as much about having an honest exchange about sexuality as it is about sex.

The enthusiasm and energy of this show are impressive. So get ready. This is an unexpected ride into comedy! Yes, comedy. Laura Zam has the talent to make a comedy monologue  about difficult subject matters and to look at these problems in a new way. The ability to share painful personal stories with hilarity and pathos for entertainment value, while reaching out to help others, is a unique quality that Zam possesses and most people aren’t able to do without coming across as calculating or trivial.

The show begins abruptly with Laura Zam bursting onto the stage exclaiming “I’m Married!”

What follows is a rendezvous of sexual dysfunctions as she unearths problems . . . discovered on her honeymoon. Married Sex is her quest to find a solution and resolve her issues through a journey filled with cynical and kooky sex therapists, an insane hypnotist, a jet-setting Tantric mistress, and a horny rabbi.

For many people, sex is a confusing, difficult subject to discuss.

Laura Zam.
Laura Zam.

This production attempts to normalize discussions around sexual healing and sexual health in general. Raising awareness not only about the “challenges” of married sex, the play also devotes a great deal to the life long effects of dealing with the trauma of Zam’s sexual abuse at the age of four. The passion in the storytelling is certainly there,  but if I’m totally honest, in the midst of creating 28 characters, I never completely felt Laura Zam was totally present as Laura Zam in her moments. Her acting is skilled for sure (perhaps it was opening night jitters) but for me Zam still came across in her portrayal as another “character” speaking in first person. But don’t get me wrong, this story still comes across as authentic and the information is invaluable.

Married Sex was commissioned by Theater J for their Locally Grown Festival and this play was a semifinalist for the 2013 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.  This show  is already in full swing with upcoming engagements and  is slated for New York Fringe in August.

And, to give people an opportunity to engage beyond the play, Laura Zam is hosting, along with a psychologist who specializes in sex, a Sex Brunch at Petits Plat restaurant on July 28, 2013.

The ‘Married Sex’ program comes with:
Laura Zam’s Married (and Un- Married) Sex tips.

1. Dance with your honey every morning for 5 minutes: Dirty Dancing is encouraged.

2. Text regularly, even if it means upgrading your (already) pricey data plan.

3. Don’t criticize your honey. But if you must, follow immediately with something oral. A happy relationship depends on your ability to swallow your words.

I’ve only shared three of the many tips Laura Zam offers in Married Sex. If you want more you’ll have to see the show.  Or, as one the taglines for the show states –


Running Time: 75 minutes.

Recommended for adults only.
This show contains profanity.

Married Sex plays through July 20, 2013 at Fort Fringe Bedroom – 612 L Street NW, in Washington, DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the show’s Capital Fringe page.

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Sydney-Chanele Dawkins
Sydney-Chanele Dawkins is an award-winning feature filmmaker, film curator, film festival producer and a theater/film critic and arts writer. She also serves as an impassioned advocate for the Arts as Chair of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts in Alexandria, VA. Fearless. Tenacious. Passionate. Loyal. These characteristics best describe Sydney-Chanele's approach to life, her enthusiasm for live theater and the arts, and her cinephile obsession with world cinema. Her successful first film, 'Modern Love is Automatic' premiered at SXSW in Austin, Texas, and made its European debut at the Edinburgh Film Festival. She recently completed her third film, the animated - 'The Wonderful Woes of Marsh' - which is rounding the film festival circuit. In 2013, Sydney-Chanele produced the box office hit,Neil Simon's Rumors for the McLean Community Players at Alden Theater, Her next producing effort in 2014 is Pearl Cleage's 'Blues for an Alabama Sky' for Port City Playhouse. Programmer for Cinema Art Bethesda and Co Chair of the Film Program for Artomatic, Sydney-Chanele is the past Festival Director of the Alexandria Film Festival, the Reel Independent Film Festival,and Female Shorts & Video Showcase. She is active in leadership and programming positions with DC Metro area Film Festivals including: Filmfest DC, DC Shorts, the Washington Jewish Film Festival, Arabian Sights Film festival, and AFI Docs. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions - [Note: Sydney-Chanele Dawkins passed away on July 8, 2015, at age 47, after a battle with Breast Cancer.]


  1. Thank you for this wonderful review! An update regarding MARRIED SEX. After this Capital Fringe run, the play went onto the New York International Fringe Festival, where is had much acclaim. Now, MARRIED SEX is premiering Off-Broadway in November (see links at end.). To fund these Fringe launch pads, as well as tremendous outreach, including FREE workshops with men and woman who’ve been sexually abused and/or assaulted, I’ve initiated an Indiegogo campaign. We have just two days left to raise $4000. Any donations would be greatly appreciated! Here is a Broadway World announcement, including a link to the campaign!


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