Love, Loss and What I Wore is a gutsy proposition of a play. It focuses exclusively on stories of women, some hilarious, some bittersweet and heartbreaking, all told through the outfits and accessories they wore at the time.
It is simply staged, with images of some of the dresses projected around the cast of five women, who sit together in a line, projecting solidarity between them while also being just far enough apart to highlight the theme that, at the end of the day, most of our biggest moments in life are gone through alone.
Written by Nora and Delia Ephron, and based off the book by Ilene Beckerman, Love, Loss and What I Wore initially draws easiest comparison to a more wistful Vagina Monologues, but there is much more to hang a hat on here. While the concept of women performing monologues in an informally theatrical setting is similar, I found myself so drawn to the five actresses that as they seamlessly slipped into the skin of 29 different characters and stories, I lost track of the connection.
Patricia West-Del Ruth, Susan Benson, Dana Fykerud, Laura Lee Coffman and Judi Van Houweling's performances elevate Love, Loss and What I Wore from a series of thematically connected monologues to a truthful meditation on identity, aging, grief, love and just about everything else we experience as humans on this Earth. The actresses change their vocal patterns, accents, tones and mannerisms to make each story feel like it is coming from an individual we are just meeting for the first time and just as we settle in with a character for the long haul, we are reminded that this is not just one woman's story and are pulled right into the next one.
The monologues range from the trouble with toe cleavage, the eternal dilemma of whether wearing high heels is worth not being able to think, to one woman's deep hatred of purses and much more. While these stories could have easily been overshadowed by the script's reliance on the constant description of clothes, I found that the dichotomy between what we drape ourselves with on the surface to what is churning underneath to be fascinating.
As someone with little to no style, I was afraid that the fashion chat would eventually alienate me and keep me at a remove from the inherent power of some of the stories. While I am most definitely not the target demographic for this show and I am sure others will have much more of a connection to the luxurious descriptions of shoes and blouses, I was always enamored with the stories.
There is an undervalued truth to the idea that material items we have with us during defining moments can then become imbued with an almost totemic power. For some it could be a car or a skateboard; for these women it is what they wore on some of the best and worst days of their lives. No matter what the thing is in our hands or on our bodies, it is the fact that we carry it with us that matters.
Love, Loss and What I Wore
7:30pm. Jan. 16-Jan. 31
2nd Street Theater, 220 NE Lafayette Ave.
$19. Tickets available at 2ndstreettheater.com