Love, Loss and What I Wore

Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron, based on the book by Ilene Beckerman
Westside Theatre, New York
(2010)

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We men have always suspected that women define their lives in terms of clothes and this show takes the position beyond dispute.

For some 100 minutes five of them, all dressed in black, play numerous parts telling stories about clothes and their wearers. These usually relate to some life experience with which the particular loved or hated item has become irrevocably associated.

To boost sales, Karen Carpenter's production is using a rolling cast of celebrities that changes every few weeks. As it happens, the group on show were reaching the end of their run and it showed, as they had clearly built up a good rapport and feel for their lines, which in any event they read.

Holding the evening together was Carol Kane. She remained reasonably independent, narrating Ilene Beckerman's life accompanied by drawings from her book on which the evening is based. This runs through five generations and a couple of husbands plus lovers, not to mention dozens of frocks.

Her story is divided by numerous others, some merely a witty sentence long on a particular topic, others relating short clothes-related memoirs.

For whatever reason, bras are both funny and, in the case of a post-mastectomy 27-year-old, tragic, while the most amusing of the longer pieces by a long way came from Capathia Jenkins and involved purse (handbag)-hatred of the most virulent and vengeful variety.

The remaining trio of actresses, Lucy De Vito, Katie Finneran and Natasha Lyonne all have fun and contribute to a gently amusing evening that has its moments but is not ideally suited to a man with no great interest in clothing.

Nora and Delia Ephron, well-known for their film scripts, insert enough good stories to hold the attention even of such a heretic. For ladies who worship and continuously replenish wardrobes packed with clothes and shoes this will be seventh heaven.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher