“Ladies, you are in for a real treat,” Absolute Theatre co-founder Susie Hansen said in introducing Thursday’s performance of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.”
“Gentlemen … thank you for coming,” director James Douglass added.
It’s a reminder that this play, with its all-female cast, is for the gals. But everyone else — don’t let that stop you from enjoying what is an undoubtedly fun night at the theater.
“Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” debuted Thursday night, and runs Thursday-Saturday through May 4 and Sunday, May 5.
You’ll recognize the sweet, conversational tones of Nora and Delia Ephron in the script — and the sporadic New York accent the actresses adopt — which is based on the book written by Ilene Beckerman.
Kimberli Enerson, Olivia Renken, Renae Sander, and Aynsley Scheffert each play several characters during the course of the show, while Mary McPhee, as Gingy, holds the narrative together by taking the audience through pivotal moments — and outfits — in her life.
Given that it’s a play about clothing, you might expect costume changes. But no. Each of the actresses spends the entire play in black clothing — with the occasional colorful accent — seated on a stool.
The production even does away with the racks of clothing other shows have had onstage for the women to sort through (perhaps they didn’t spark joy?) and uses a series of paper doll-esque outfit sketches to portray the daydresses of our lives.
And what lives these are.
McPhee, as Gingy, charts a path from Brownies in her youth, through college and three marriages. Other characters outline failed relationships, suffocating maternal expectations, illness, and death. Yes, the clothing is important to all of it.
Keep an eye out for “Brides,” a segment in which two brides-to-be trade off narrating their anxieties about wedding attire, and “The Shirt,” in which a treasured piece of clothing stands in for a failed relationship.
There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in the show, but it’s not a comedy – not quite. Nevertheless, Absolute Theatre veterans Renae Sander and Aynsley Scheffert, both standouts in the talented cast, have some genuinely hilarious lines between them.
The play is at its funniest, though, when the actresses are allowed to volley a topic back and forth – the rigors of bra-shopping, for example, the influence of Madonna, or how nothing will ever be the “new black.”
“Sometimes I buy something that isn’t black,” Scheffert confesses near the end. “And I am so sorry.”
In the end, “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” is sometimes painful, sometimes heartwarming, but always deeply relatable.
Gentlemen, you’ll certainly find plenty to ponder and laugh out loud at in “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.” But ladies … this one is for you.