Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 48
Wearing it well: 'Love, Loss, and What I Wore' poignantly explores the struggles women endure
BY JOE PAYNE
Let’s be real: Men have it pretty easy. I put about as much thought into what I will wear each day as I do what I’ll have for breakfast, and the answer is usually the same—what’s closest and easiest. That being said, I grew up with an older sister, and live with my fiancée, and both have provided me with examples of just how complex choosing clothing can be for a lady.
The wardrobe is the theme that ties Love, Loss, and What I Wore together. Penned by Nora and Delia Ephron, and based on the 1995 book by Ilene Beckerman, the play is a series of monologues and ensemble pieces requiring the talents of six women. The Ephrons are sisters and highly acclaimed screen and stage writers, penning such classics as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle respectively. The duo’s collaboration stabs deep into the heart, relating some of the most intimate experiences one can have, from broken marriages to losing a child.
We are introduced to the play by a recurring character named Gingy (Valerie Pallai) who begins relating her life story growing up in New York City, naming each address she lived at, as New Yorkers are wont to do. As Pallai tells the character’s story, she reveals a series of drawings suspended from coat hangers, each depicting a different garment that either she or someone special to her wore. The character of Gingy acts as a constant reminder throughout the play of the themes being explored—love and loss—in a realistic way. Pallai plays the character so comfortably you would be surprised if she wasn’t actually a native New Yorker like the character.
The rest of the ensemble gets introduced one by one, in a series of monologues. Their characters hail from a variety of backgrounds, but, of course, they all hold clothes in common. Quite quickly the play includes ensemble scenes, from simple duets to highly choreographed moments with all five actors.
The mother-daughter relationship is explored often, with Amytra and Lynda Mondragon, two talented artists on their own, who, together, make a chemistry that is authentic worried-mother-and-embarrassed-daughter. Amytra later delivers a very powerful monologue about dealing with breast cancer, and elicits laughter with another one about the perils of high-heeled shoes. Mondragon is also an enjoyable talent, a returning Civic Theatre performer, who delivers several scenes with an enjoyable, dry wit, including a trip bra shopping and visiting her husband in jail.
The play begins “PG” enough, but as it gains momentum, it isn’t afraid to drop a few F bombs, as well as deal with some heavy topics. Rebekah Castillo delivers a powerful performance in the monologue “Boots,” which relates the pain of sexual assault while continuing to hold onto one’s identity after a dehumanizing experience. PCPA alumna Catherine Brown offers a hilarious, though blue performance as a Southern girl dealing with an uncommitted man while her sisters offer a cackling counterpoint to her problems.
Wearing many hats during the play, but always representing red (each actor gets a color), Cindy Stevens makes her Santa Maria Civic Theatre debut in Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Stevens gets several chances to represent the prim and proper, which she does with great cheek. Her shining moment is a monologue about the perfect shirt, which may or may not be a veiled metaphor about relationships.
The play is directed by Santa Maria Civic Theatre veteran Stuart Wenger, who most recently wowed as the investigating officer in Dial M For Murder. Wenger went against the script’s instructions to present Love, Loss, and What I Wore as a reader’s theater style performance, which was a wise choice in my opinion. The actors are more than talented enough to keep all the lines straight, which is especially evident in the seamless and often wonderfully timed delivery when all six perform at once.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore is a fantastic evening of entertainment. The play runs for an hour and a half without an intermission, and is great fun for couples, families with young adults or mature adolescents, and men and women of all ages.
Arts Editor Joe Payne probably couldn’t handle bra shopping. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.