When a song I haven’t heard for ages comes on the radio, the memory that song evokes immediately takes me back to what I was doing and the emotions I felt, like dancing with my husband on our wedding day to Madonna’s Crazy For You.
Such is the sense memory of important pieces of clothing (including Madonna’s costume choices through the years) displayed and discussed throughout Delia Ephron and Nora Ephron’s Love, Loss and What I Wore, now playing at Oak Brook’s First Folio Theatre, located at the Mayslake Peabody Estate through April 25, 2015. From brownie uniforms to odd wedding dress selections, the five member cast muses about what their clothes have meant to them throughout their lives.
The main thread of the one act play (about an hour and a half with no intermission) is one of the woman’s colorful drawings of clothes marking the high points in her life. As she tells her story, the four other women burst in with various vignettes about their own clothing, from buying bras to a paper dress with a female-oriented “incident,” and even a long dissertation on what purses mean to women. Virtually no topic goes untouched – being fat, being skinny, mommy issues, daddy issues, and breast cancer – all the topics that women often discuss are laid bare when the layers are peeled away.
The five women in the show were delightful and very real to me. Barbara Figgins plays the woman assessing her life through the clothing of her memories. Her warmth and wry wit had me rooting for her. Lydia Berger Gray’s purse diatribe was spot on and she inhabited numerous characters with fun and frolic. Hayley Rice was funny playing both moms and daughters, and Danielle Davis tore at my heart with her experience as a young woman with breast cancer. Finally, I admired Lindsey Perlman’s portrayals greatly – her facial expressions and comic timing were superior and pulled all the stories together. The five women together have a frenetic energy that mirrors women’s lives today.
The set is an excellent representation of a fancy dressing room in department stores from the past. The director Rachel Lambert had the cast use these rooms and other entrance points to give us a feeling of movement and life force. While the play is about clothing and what our apparel history says to the world and to ourselves, the cast keeps their own costumes simple. They wear their varied outfits, only adding to their costumes in a small number of vignettes.
First Folio Theatre has a compact stage and small number of seats, but this means that the audience feels closer to the action. This works especially well for an intimate story like Love, Loss and What I Wore. Parking is free and plentiful, and they even serve free tea and cookies.
I highly recommend you take your mom and your friends to see Love, Loss, and What I Wore. This play brings on both laughter and tears, often within the same subject. As the women in the play examine their lives, we can’t help examine our own experiences. Each time I look in my guest closet, I see the box that houses my wedding dress from twenty-five years ago. The memory of that day and what that commitment still means in an age where butt bows are no longer fashionable shores me up when I open my own crowded closet and declare to my ever-patient husband: I have NOTHING to wear. Nothing.
Love, Loss and What I Wore is playing Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Thursday and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. through April 25. Performances take place at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, located at 1717 W 31st St. off Rt. 83 in Oak Brook. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 630.986.8067 or online at the First Folio website. Coming up this summer, First Folio will be presenting Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale July 11-August 9 outside on the estate grounds.
Photos Courtesy of David Rice.