Apparel oft proclaims the (Wo)man
When I shifted to Toronto a couple of months ago, I realised that I’d finally get to see a big, glamour filled theatre evening. So when the chance came to finally see my first play in Canada, and my first in over 3 months, expectations were high. And I picked a play that’s been receiving rapturous applauses in the US and Canada, ‘Love, Loss and What I wore’ – a memoir of over 20 stories about how clothes make a woman.
Yes, I watched a chic flick on stage.
Love, Loss and What I Wore, is a collection of pieces written by the sister duo of Nora Ephron (Screenwriter of films including When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and Julie & Julia) and Delia Ephron (Co - Screenwriter and producer of the above films) and based on the best selling book of the same name by Ilene Beckerman. The cast consists of 5 women on a rotational basis. Celebrities too have been involved in some of the shows. These include, Mellisa Joan Hart, Fran Drescher, Rosie O’ Donnell and Brooke Shields.
I saw the show at the Panasonic Theatre, built in 1911 and has gone through many transformations since then. The theatre itself is a 500+ seater proscenium space, pretty much like St. Andrew Auditorium in Bombay. An interesting fact, the popular theatres in Toronto are named after electronic companies, Panasonic, Sony and Canon.
The play itself revolved around 5 women playing different characters through a series of short monologues, narrating stories about the clothes they wore at different stages of their lives. The vignettes included stories on bras, leather boots, bathrobes, prom dresses, gang sweaters, the irreplaceable shirt, wardrobe malfunctions, first date outfits, lucky underwear, your mother’s taste in clothes and dressing up as Madonna (“if you haven’t you are either lying or are Amish”).
One track, played by eminent radio personality, Barbara Budd, follows the life story of a woman named ‘Gingy’ through childhood, three marriages, motherhood and the death of a child, each turning point marked by a particular item of clothing. Other recollections of the evening, included the story of a woman who gave up wearing miniskirts in college after being raped, but refused to stop wearing her beloved boots, the anxieties expressed by two lesbians whose families oppose their union and the decision by a cancer survivor to have a tattoo on her newly reconstructed breast.
The staging was pretty much like the Vagina Monologues. 5 chairs, with all of them dressed in black (as one track goes, “Can’t we just stop pretending that anything is ever going to be the new black?”) and a white backdrop with light colours changing the moods based on the piece. The Gingy track involved colourful sketches of the outfits that defined a period in her life, on a clothes rack changed by a production person.
While some of the stories really struck an emotional chord, the others, maybe cause I’m a guy, were just rants about not having anything to wear despite having 2 closets full and never finding the right fitting outfit. The sketches in Gingy track was a pointless affair and at one time taking 8 minutes to draw a woman in an outfit, which was more a doodle actually. The worthwhile track of the evening was the one about how a woman’s bag is more like a garbage disposal and you’ll never know what comes out of there. Reminded me of a one Shivani Tanksale’s bag.
Not much could be commented about the performances as the actresses spent most of their time looking at the script, and still fumbled, and didn’t take much effort in connecting with the audience or even voice modulate while playing children. Only Lisa Horner, a noted Canadian actress, and who is doing only a handful of shows of the play, tried to make the audience part of the evening.
The light design involved 16 lights with 4 colours which kept changing to the mood of the piece. Enough said!
While the 98% female dominated audience lapped up the stories and the performances, the males in the audience were still left to understand what the big deal was. While one would say I’m being a male chauvinist and hence not understanding the woman’s psyche for clothes as the reason for not enjoying the evening, I would like to point out that my Fashion Stylist of a sister hated the play more than I did and didn’t understand the point of the evening.
The guess the only thrill of the theatre evening was having a glass of wine during the performance. Prithvi and NCPA….are you listening?