Ilene Beckerman wrote a very successful memoir (some might even say a contemporary classic) titled : “Love, Loss and What I Wore” a wry, clever recollection of key moments in her personal history and the article of clothing connected to each event. A blouse for a life-changing date, gloves for an upscale reception, a classy black cocktail dress for her first mixer, this kind of thing. Next the Ephron sisters collaborated on a stage adaptation of the same content, that opened off-Broadway. Delia and Nora are both authors. Delia wrote childrens’ books, and in addition to being a film director, Nora started out as a journalist for The Washington Post.
I would not presume to discuss gender-privilege here, but it seems pretty clear that women are under so much pressure when it comes to personal appearance and success. They’re usually expected to wear makeup, and pay close attention to their daily “costumes,” while men can get away with so much more. Unfortunately, we still live in a culture where so much of a woman’s value is attached to how she dresses. It’s too easy to dismiss a lady if we decide she doesn’t care about her appearance. Of course, you could bring up a satire like Being There (Chance the gardener judged solely by a three-piece suit) but the social world imposed upon women is so much more nuanced and often, judgmental, shallow and harsh.
Love, Loss and What I Wore is a series of monologues performed by different, unnamed characters of various ages, orientations, ethnicities and incomes. It’s poignant and entertaining because it glories in detail. Not all the anecdotes and vignettes are funny, some are ridiculous, enraging, even devastating. Director Michael Serrecchia brings just the right tone to the personal recollections and choral ruminations, also using slides to illustrate various frocks and draping the scenery in silky, sumptuous fabric, in homage to Christo. Love, Loss…has the intriguing effect of individualizing each speaker, yet connecting them as women. There’s something quirky about the lady whose cycle begins while wearing a paper dress. The moment is awful and ironic and yet, just one of those things. She trying to be trendy and winds up simply trying to save face. The symphony of stories creates a very authentic, tender, amusing, moving evening of the struggles and triumphs of woman’s experience, and what they must endure.
Contemporary Theatre of Dallas presents Love, Loss and What I Wore, playing February 12th-March 6th, 2016. 5601 Sears Street, Dallas, Texas 75206. 214-828-0094.