Theater News Online
free issue
London Theatre Reviews
NY Theater Reviews
LTN Recommendations
NYTN Recommendations
Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
London Theatre Archives
NY Theater Archives
Latest New York News
Latest London News
NY News Archives
London News Archives
Peter Filichia's Monday Quiz
Dining and Travel
London Theatre Listings
NY Broadway Listings
Off-Broadway Listings
London Tickets
Advertise with us

Subscribe
Renew
Give a Gift


Logo

Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE
at Westside Theatre

ONE SIZE FITS ALL
By JESSICA BRANCH

  (L to R) Doris Roberts, Julie Halston, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Brooke Shields and Anna Chlumsky/ Ph: Carol Rosegg

If you have fonder memories of your prom dress than your prom date; if you’d rather lose your boyfriend than your favorite shirt; or if you’ve ever been rejuvenated by a bra fitting: This play may be a perfect fit. But as it relates personal histories through the lens of wardrobe landmarks, Love, Loss, and What I Wore also sets out to be an exercise in sartorial sisterhood, linking the legions who have stood in front of their closets, wondered what on earth to wear.

Based on Ilene Beckerman’s illustrated memoir of the same name, this “intimate collection of stories” was put into play form by Nora and Delia Ephron and boasts a revolving cast of stars, which so far has included Tyne Daly, Kristen Chenoweth, Janeane Garofalo, Carol Kane, Natasha Lyonne, Rosie O’Donnell, and Rhea Perlman, among many others. (The most recent lineup consists of Doris Roberts, Anna Chlumsky, Julie Halston, LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Brooke Shields.) This kind of star power is possible thanks to the readers’ theater format: The women, generally clad in black, sit in a row onstage with their scripts, and though a few characters recur throughout the show, for the most part, the actresses present short vignettes – many funny, some moving – about a particular article of clothing – a pair of suede boots, say, or a deceased mother’s bathrobe. Periodically, the actresses join forces to belt out a quick series of variations on a pervasive wardrobe theme that unites us all – the horrors of the dressing room, for example, or why there will never be a “new black."

The elder stateswoman among these characters tells a number of tales about significant garments (with illustrations a la Beckerman on a handy easel) that marked her life in the first half of the 20th century on the Upper East Side. But interspersed among these anecdotes are a range of stories from other women about the clothes that affected or reflected their emotional lives, from the young girl whose stepmother gives away her favorite party dress to the gang member puffed up with pride over her custom-made sweater with her gang’s coat of arms, to the breast cancer patient with a litany of hats to cover her chemo-induced baldness. Many of these reminiscences do tap into trite clothing tropes – high heels, black turtlenecks. But thankfully, there are a few twists thrown in when we get to the well-traveled terrain of wedding attire and, of course, purses. Not to give anything away, but the show does reveal the perfect bag for all occasions, available for sale in the lobby. Hint: It’s very New York.

Although the bonds of shared experience that the play draws on do exist for many women – anyone who’s ever dared try out a trend, fought with her parents about appropriate attire or just longed for that one special, life-changing dress – nonetheless, the play’s push toward the universal sometimes conflicts with the very specificity of many of its stories. Yes, many among us have had a favorite shirt, but that insistence can become too stridently homogenizing in the face of the play’s more interesting and unexpected individual tales. Further, the quality of the stories is uneven, as some trot out the female equivalent of Borscht Belt standards, while others do offer fresh and often amusing moments – like a four-star mini-Madonna salute. Nonetheless, whatever the show’s flaws, it’s a heartfelt celebration of our collective cathecting on our closets, and a sometimes-astute exploration of how fads and fashions shape our lives.   

 


SUBSCRIBE TO New York Theater News
SUBSCRIBE TO London Theater News

SCHEDULE UPDATES -
Yes, Prime Minister contracts its run, while A Chorus Line expands its own.
POWERHOUSE OF THEATRE - After 11 years as the Almeida Theatre's artistic director, Michael Attenborough is stepping down to focus on directing. 

SONGS FROM THE HEART - Once the Tony-Award winning musical is set to hit London in January.


Wine, Fruit, and Gourmet Gift Baskets.
Privacy Notice   |   Front Page
Copyright © TheaterNewsOnline.com. All Rights Reserved.