Carnegie’s ‘Love, Loss and What I Wore’ is More than Just a Girls’ Night Out
Posted On June 23, 2017
Review by Dan Maloney of Love, Loss, and What I Wore: The Carnegie
Ilene Beckerman’s 1995 memoir Love, Loss, and What I Wore tells the story of what her life was like before she had five children. As she explains, “They didn’t think I had a life before I was their mother. Sometimes, I even wondered.”
Adapted for the stage by sisters Nora and Delia Ephron, the play employs a series of monologues and ensemble pieces to stitch together the fabric of women’s lives – everything from the comically mundane to the momentous.
Director Abby Rowold assembles a fine cast of five, strong female performers to take us on this journey. Although each is very different, they come together in a way that is a joy to behold. Individually, these ladies are captivating performers – and they have to be given the amount of ground to cover. But for me, the show is at its best during the ensemble pieces – interludes about dressing like Madonna, having nothing to wear, or loving the color black. This is where Ms. Rowold’s direction shines.
The story we keep returning to is that of Gingy (Marypat Carletti), the only named character in the play. Ms. Carletti exhibits grace and fortitude in the role. More importantly, she got me thinking about the strong women in my life, and what they must have been like in their prime. Gingy’s Story is the through-line, but to say she is the only principle actor would be misleading. The four ensemble players (Mel Hatch Douglass, Nabachawa Ssensalo, Tess Talbot, and Sarah Zaffiro) share equal prominence, and all five women give impressive performances.
Ms. Hatch Douglass is a delight – kooky in the best possible way, yet still able to delve emotionally and connect on a personal level. Ms. Ssensalo deftly handles the more dramatic moments in the show. These could have easily been over-played. However, she speaks the truth plainly, without adornment or contrition, and the result is empowering. Ms. Talbot showcases a spunky attitude that plays exceptionally well, and she does a fantastic job of using the audience’s laughter to invite us into her character. Finally, Ms. Zaffiro comes across as the plucky kid-sister, humorously overwhelmed by the daunting world of womanhood.
While these women carry the day, in some ways, the show is a little over-produced. There are moments where the production elements take away from the storytelling, and more often than not, the transitions between scenes are awkward. Production concepts are forced onto the play, and the reality is these ladies are strong enough in their own right that they don’t the help.
As a thirty-something male, I think it’s safe to say I’m not the target audience for this play, and I’d be lying if I claimed to have understood every joke. I could have benefited from a pocket-translation book, particularly in regard to the fashion references. Still, the storytelling is compelling, and that’s more than enough for me to be able to enjoy myself. The difference is where I was smiling during these tales of love and woe, the women around me were bursting with laughter. And when I was laughing, those same women were doubled-over. In other words, this show is ideal for a girls’ night out; however, dutiful husbands might be surprised by how much they find themselves enjoying it too.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore plays at The Carnegie through November 20th. For tickets, call the box office at 859-957-1940 Tuesday-Friday 12:00-5 PM or visit www.thecarnegie.com.