Love loss and what I wore is written by Nora and Delia Ephron based on the 1995 book of the same name by Ilene Beckerman. Clothes are what the story and exposition hang on in this script. Fortunately Director Paris Valentino cast five very capable performers to rock the catwalk.
We open with Felicity Steel's portrayal of Gingy. Welcoming us to the wardrobe of her life. Steel flits with ease between the raspy real well lived American women and the young 12yr old Gingy being scolded by her mother.
The soul of this piece is not the clothes themselves but what is hidden or declared in reference to the garments and how the characters and the people in their lives remember them.
The set is picture frames exhibiting drawings of clothes from Gingy's life. Hanging against the red curtain of the Butterfly Club, it is an effective design but could have been more tightly cued when they glow up to support the story.
Valentino incorporates native languages of the cast to good effect making this American play much more accessible and universal. The pace is sharp and keeps the audience taught on the thread as the performers weave us through different cities and times.
The fashion industry is always trying to dress the female form but why does one actually buy or put on any garment? This work gives transparency to the inner thoughts that transpire when a person wears or is worn out by an outfit.
Having the actors seated behind scripts for the duration does work for the Butterfly Club but also limits the actors to seated embodiment of their characters and clothes.
That said, Steel commands the space from the central podium as the matriarch leading the other women through their strength and vulnerability. Not afraid to own their mistakes and air the dirty laundry.
Sally Cheng kept steadfast focus throughout the piece and delivered her characters' monologues with precision. Alanah Parkins' hair was almost in the second row, the list of accents she rolled through portraying different characters reached the fifth row and her resonate voice hit the back of the theatre to the delight of the audience.
Claire Pearson threads in the comic relief when the fabric of the piece gets too dense. Yet her authentic portrayal of a 27 year old women defeating breast cancer later in the text brings a new depth to the work. A credit to the actresses range which makes the interwoven comedy she sews even sharper leaving us in literal stiches.
Birkenstocks, hexes, purses full of despair, shopping through a sea of elbows, tense mothers, failed marriages and fond memories of good linen. What more could you want? Buy a ticket before it closes.
Theatre is back, keep an eye out for whatever Come One Come All Productions exhibits next.
Come One Come All Productions presents
Love, Loss and What I Wore
by Nora Ephron & Delia Ephron | based on book by Ilene Beckerman
Director Paris Valentino
Venue: The Butterfly Club | Carson Place, off Little Collins St, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 29 November – 4 December 2021
Tickets: $35 – $31