Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Parker Playhouse: Love, Loss, and What I Wore (reviews)

The National Tour of Nora and Delia Ephron's Love Loss, and What I Wore opened at the Parker Playhouse on January 17, 2012.
Finally a play that dares to ask: “Can’t we all just stop pretending anything is ever going to be the new black?” LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE opens the closet on this and other sartorial queries by using clothes as a metaphor for matters far deeper than the average walk-in closet. This intimate collection of stories by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron is based on the best-seller by Ilene Beckerman, as well as on the recollections of the Ephrons’ friends.
Karen Carpenter directed an all-star cast including Emily Dorsch, Daisy Eagan, Sonia Manzano, Loretta Swit and Myra Lucretia Taylor. Produced by Daryl Roth.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Like The Vagina Monologues, the play features performers who sit at music stands with the script in front of them, allowing actresses to do short runs of the show without having to learn lines or memorize movement.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no acting going on in Love, Loss and What I Wore. Far from it.
Swit, slender, pale and chic, plays the engaging Gingy, a woman of a certain age and the gal who ties the evening together... Charting the ups and downs of Gingy’s life, Swit is always a radiant presence.
Eagan and Dorsch have a lovely, touching scene in which they play brides searching for the perfect outfit for their special day. Manzano, so well known as Maria on Sesame Street, gets two particularly pithy characters, one a politician with a rebellious past, the other a breast cancer survivor. The chameleonic Taylor is poignant as she shares a story about the meaning of a bathrobe, grandly hilarious as she sputters out a tale about her problems with purses.

Love, Loss and What I Wore, which had intermittent ear-splitting sound problems on opening night, doesn’t have the depth, emotional resonance or writing quality of The Vagina Monologues. But a versatile cast and relatable subject make for an enjoyable 90 minutes of theater.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The evening features five women telling 90 minutes of stories, touching and uproarious, about how everything from Birkenstock shoes to an old bathrobe provide the touchstones of the authors’ lives. It often seems less theater so much as eavesdropping on a dish-fest that lingers over coffee in a restaurant after a two-hour lunch.
Helmed by director Karen Carpenter, the five women interact with each other, portray secondary characters in someone else’s story, often fire off examples of a theme like “The Closet” in what sometimes seems like a choral performance of contrapuntal voices. They also pay attention to each other, smiling as broadly at the tales as the audience members.
Beckerman’s ongoing story, told by Swit and augmented with her own drawings, is interrupted and enhanced with recollections written by 18 other women including Rosie O’Donnell, Alex Witchel, Mary Rodgers and Merrill Markoe. Other than Swit, each actress plays women of different ages, ethnicities and social backgrounds. Each tells their stories with a savor in their voice usually reserved for gourmet food.
...easily the high spot was the routine about how purses reflect the interior disorder of their owners’ lives. Taylor’s perfectly cadenced and paced storytelling was uninterrupted hilarity.
But the evening also ties clothing to more sober occasions such as Manzano’s  story of a woman who faces a mastectomy dressed to the nines to reaffirm her control and dignity, and whose imagining of a lacy white bra got her through reconstructive surgery.
Love, Loss and What I Wore is a surprisingly satisfying evening in the theater of reaffirming self-recognition.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore  plays at the Parker Playhouse through January 22, 2012.

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