Love, Loss, and What I Wore – Play Review


Based on a book by Ilene Beckerman, written for stage by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron, the play “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” is a collection of stories about women and their experiences with life.  While the Ephron sisters spent years researching and working on transforming the book, in a play, they discovered, that when you ask women about their clothes, they come up with stories about their lives.  It is almost like when you want to understand emotional impact of traumatic events on little boys, you play with them and through their play, they will share.

Well, so it is with women.  Out come from the pages of their diaries, stories and intimate details of events, people, and places and their recollection about clothes.  With whom they went shopping, how particular clothes made them feel, who gave them the gift of clothing and what it meant, and clothes they stopped wearing.  A fabulous cast of Dee Hoty, Sandra Tsing Loh, Ashley Austin Morris, Zuzanna Szadkowski, and Dawn Wells share stories that span a gamut, from conversations with friends to conversations inside a dressing room, to dialogs inside one’s head while going through their closets.

Any woman can identify with these dressing room dialogs, either to self or to a shopping companion.  “I am size 8”; “Do you have this in size 12”; “I look so pale in green”; “I can’t decide”; “Is my butt too big?”; “I think my butt is too big”.  And which woman has not had some of these conversations with themselves, when going through their closets?  “I have nothing to wear”; “I should clear out my closet”; “I should throw out what I don’t wear in over two years”; “when did I buy this”; “this can’t be mine”.  What woman has not agonized over “I’d be great in high heels but my feet hurt”; “my feet hurt so much I can’t think”.  How many women loose themselves in their purses, when looking for an item?  Purses that collect every imaginable type of junk, lipsticks without lids, hard to differentiate clean from dirty crumpled cleenex tissues, tampons, hotel keys, pens and more.

Some of the stories in the play are funny, others are sentimental; yet others bring back long dormant memories, and others are sad.   A woman recollects how she gave up wearing miniskirts, after being raped, though she refused to stop wearing her favorite boots; and another woman who freaked out as a little girl when she saw her step mother wear a bathrobe exactly like what her late mother owned, in a different color.  These are not stories about clothes.  These are poignant tales of these women’s lives.  Two lesbians, whose families took opposing attitudes regarding their marriage, had great anxieties about their wedding attire.  A cancer survivor decided to have a tattoo on her newly reconstructed breast, instead of a nipple.  There are stories about mothers who disapprove, men who are unworthy, complicated relationship with sisters who are infinitely trying but got your back; stories about denial, about acceptance, embarrassment, lack of confidence, guilt, and gratefulness.

Don’t miss the play, directed by Karen Carpenter; creative staging by Jessica Simkins and Stephanie Schliemann, scenic design by Jo Winiarski, sound by Walter Trarback, and lighting by Charlie Cooper (original lighting by Jeff Croiter).  Women, go watch the play with your girlfriends and after the play, over dinner, you will be moved to share with each other, wonderful, warm stories, from your own lives.  And men, if you go with your spouse or girlfriend or sister or mother, do be gentle in your teasing.  For tickets, go to www.sjrep.com .

Women's dresses

Women’s dresses (Photo credit: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums)

 

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