Ephrons' poignant tales of obsession
All three essentials in "Love, Loss, and What I Wore," which won a 2010 Drama Desk award, figure prominently in the 28 vignettes by Nora and Delia Ephron. The experience -- it would be misleading to call it a play -- makes its post-Off-Broadway Long Island premiere, performed, aptly enough, by the South Shore Theatre Experience.
Superficially, the stories, inspired by Ilene Beckerman's book of the same name, are about clothes and accessories. But the five women confessing to fashion obsessions are really talking about what animates their desire to wear something that makes them feel thinner, smarter, happier, hipper and, of course, sexier. Especially for special occasions: weddings, yes, but also the first time she tells her boyfriend that she'll spend the night, or when she's mortified by an "outfit" her mother bought her when everybody else is dressing like hippies.
Gingy, nominally the narrator, played with coy restraint by Trish Consalazio, traces her fashion history with cute drawings: from her Brownie uniform to closet artifacts with which her granddaughters delight in playing dress-up. In between, are three marriages, motherhood and the loss of a child. The other ladies play multiple roles of women we've met or, for the opposite gender, may have been at times. Harriet Baker, Mary Ann Cafiero, Sylvia Walsh and Deborah Cascio Plezia range in age and body type. The casting by director Martin Knapp reflects that of the original Off-Broadway lineup led by Tyne Daly and Rosie O'Donnell.
Players rotated frequently Off-Broadway, which is why the show is essentially a staged reading, though it seems unnecessary here. (The first reading was at East Hampton's Guild Hall in 2008.) Each woman, dressed in black, has a bar-stool-type chair and a sheet-music stand for the script, sparingly referred to on opening night. Each also has a purse (or substitute) that accessorizes one of the funnier discourses. A story about breast cancer, delivered by Walsh, is hilarious, shocking and moving. She wants a tattoo on her reconstructed breast rather than a nipple.
Loss comes in several forms in the Ephron sisters' script, but none sadder than one that's never mentioned. The show closed Off-Broadway on March 27, after 1,013 performances. Nora Ephron died June 26 of leukemia. She was 71.
WHAT "Love, Loss and What I Wore"
TICKETS $15; southshoretheatre.com, 631-669-0506