Almost three years have passed since writer and director, Nora Ephron, passed away from the complications of pneumonia interacting with acute myeloid leukemia. The Manhattan wordsmith known for writing “When Harry Met Sally…” as well as co-writing “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Silkwood” is still celebrated for her frequently smart and humorous dialogue. A new production of a comedy-drama written by Ephron and her talented sister, Delia Ephron, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, is currently playing at the Lyceum Theatre.
Based on Ilene Beckerman’s book, the script is comprised of short vignettes and monologues involving women and clothes. Their reflections and memories of different dresses, bras, boots, etc are the catalyst for personal stories about their history and relationships with other people.
Although many would probably think that the cast members would dress up in a variety of garments throughout the play, each of them wears a single black ensemble expertly designed by Anastasia Pautova.
The writing from the Ephron sisters is usually pretty light and touches on random yet relatable topics such as prom, Madonna, grandchildren and being a girl scout, to name a few. An uproarious speech that stands out is one given by Deanne Driscoll as a woman who has grown tired of carrying a purse. In this particular sequence, Driscoll’s timing is fast and furious.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore occasionally veers into darker territory that deals with heavy subject matter such as cancer, family dysfunction, rape and death. Performers, including Rachael VanWormer, Jacole Kitchen and Elsa Martinez know how to handle the solemn scenes, while balancing them with an optimistic attitude.
The artist who has the most stage time, and serves as an unofficial narrator, is Melinda Gilb, who portrays Gingy. The role is actually based on the author, Beckerman, herself. Gilb’s natural stage presence and warmth makes her an ideal thespian to depict a person with a highly unusual and fascinating life.
Production Manager for San Diego Repertory Theatre, John Anderson, stages the anecdotes in a deliberately simple manner. Thus allowing the focus to be on the actresses and the tales that are shared.
Adding to the atmosphere is sound designer Kevin Anthenill’s delicate original music and Areta MacKelvie’s colorful lighting design. They create a mood that is equally contemplative as well as upbeat.
The majority of theatregoers seeing Love, Loss, and What I Wore will most likely always be women and truth be told, men might not always relate to all of the material. Since clothes, as implied in the play’s title, are described in detail for extended periods of time over the course of the interpretation.
Though a large amount of females visiting a theatre located in an urban shopping mall, Horton Plaza, may not have any issues with the discussions about apparel, male viewers could feel that the narratives temporarily lose focus. Yet, they should have a good time at Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Despite the gender gap, regarding the subject matter, intelligent quips, shocking revelations and solid acting, will easily pull the entire audience attending back into the narrative.
There are enough laughs, emotion and thoughtful observations throughout the 90-minute intermissionless experience to appeal to mature viewers. Not everyone will be inspired to buy another pair of boots, an outfit or a hand-bag, after the curtain call, but the characters leave such a lasting impression that they are worth thinking about long after the evening is over.