Carnegie’s Love, Loss and What I Wore Dresses for Success
Posted On June 26, 2017
Review by Doug Iden of Love, Loss, and What I Wore: The Carnegie Theatre
Hats off to The Carnegie Theater’s production of Love, Loss and What I Wore which opened November 5. The show is a series of vignettes which use clothes as a metaphor for events in different women’s lives in a mostly comic, bittersweet manner. Like all sketch comedy, some of the scenes work well and some not so well but the batting average of Love, Loss is high enough to warrant a view.
The play is adapted from an Ilene Beckerman novel by the sister team of Nora and Delia Ephron. Nora Ephron is best known for writing the screenplays for romantic comedies including When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle and continues that legacy with this play.
There is one common thread in the play with the ongoing story of Gingy played by Marypat Carletti interwoven with a series of disparate stories told by the ensemble cast Mel Hatch Douglas, Nabachwa Ssensalo, Tess Talbot and Sarah Zaffiro. The ensemble cast plays a total of 27 different characters, each telling their individual stories and it is a credit to the actors and Director Abby Rowold that the audience is able to keep track of what is happening through voice inflection, posture and costuming. The ensemble cast is, collectively, very good but the actors are not associated with particular roles so it is difficult to rate individual performances. Several of the skits are real highlights including the “I Hate My Purse”, “Black” (in which they discuss their black dresses) and “Sisters” during which two siblings have a running commentary about the impending nuptials of their sister and “Heels” with the choice of pain or comfort. Some sketches were more serious with several concentrating on difficult relationships with parents, mothers-in-law and ex-husbands or boyfriends plus a young woman who successfully combats breast cancer showing poignancy without being maudlin.
And you cannot give the production “shirt” shrift either. The melding of set design/visual projection (Tyler Gabbard), costumes (Allison Lechlak), lighting (Andi Shultes) and sound (Troy Bausch) is extraordinary. The set is divided into a front and back section, separated by a gossamer curtain which, depending upon lighting, allows you to see the enormous collection of clothes and dressing tables behind the barrier or just the front part of the stage. Normally, the action takes place downstage but, occasionally, there is an interaction between characters in front and in back.
The curtain also functions as a screen onto which the titles of the scenes and movie segments augmenting the action are projected. There is also an inside joke when one character complains that there is no title for her skit. Some fashion designs are also projected as characters describe their clothes. In one particularly effective scene, Gingy is sketching her dream dress on a pad of paper while the image being projected shows the drawing taking place.
The clothes must have blown the costume budget for the next 5 years. There were a lot of allusions to real clothes designers, a few of whom I actually knew. (Personally, I am a fugitive from the lifetime most-wanted list of the fashion police.)
The sketches clearly are aimed at women although there is enough universality to please everyone. There were times, however, when three-quarters of the audience (the women) were laughing hysterically and the other quarter (the men) were saying: what? As I was leaving the theater though, I overheard several different groups of women discussing elements of the show and comparing them with their own real experiences. I’m sure that would have pleased the Ephron sisters.
Pumped up? All dressed up and nowhere to go? Saunter down to The Carnegie Theater and its production of Love, Loss and What I Wore continuing through November 20. Tickets are available at www.thecarnegie.com.