Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 8, 2016

Love, Loss, and What I Wore

Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
through December 11, 2016
by Barbara Stroup

Eight lively actresses grace the Majestic Stage in the current production of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.” The steady appearance—on hangers, one at a time— of a lifetime’s wardrobe prompts memories, both poignant and amusing. As they take turns describing the events that surround the occasion when each particular dress was worn, they reveal fragments from the stories of their lives. Experiences shared by so many women – body awareness and shame, comical interactions with mothers, sales clerks, and the men in their pasts – prompt laughter and sympathy.

However, this Nora Efron piece lacks a story arc, character development and conflict, plot, and other elements we rightly expect of live theatre. At best, it seems the writer could have used a one-person monologue as the vehicle for this memoir, in the style of Billy Crystal’s recent “700 Sundays.”  We never really get to know any of these women (we see only one relationship among them), nor are we told why they have assembled and how they relate to each other. Where does their bond come from? What prompts these confessional-type revelations? Our emotions are buffeted about, from sadness to comedy and back again, and stereotypes keep emerging.

Because their assigned roles vary as well -- each actress takes on different parts during the play—the audience is further distanced from the possibility of character growth and familiarity. They vow devotion to dressing in black, but this production’s lighting makes their black clothing go flat and dull. Both this absence of costume and the minimal set rob the audience of visual interest and make this production feel under-funded.

In spite of these limitations, the matinee audience (largely female) supported the performance with frequent laughter and the almost universal recognition of women’s shared experiences. Ephron’s script – tying memoir to outfits – just needed a better concept.