Rarely does a play’s title capture the complete essence of a script better than Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore. The Ephron sisters’ adaptation of the 1995 book of the same name by Ilene Beckerman is Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse’s season opener and runs live, on stage through August 29.
The Ephrons, whose best-known collaboration is the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan film You’ve Got Mail, enhanced Beckerman’s book with personal recollections as well as stories from friends that touched on the life experiences unique to women and the fashion connections to them.
Five stools and five music stands greet you upon entering the theatre. Two projection screens and a single chandelier adorn the back of the stage. Those screens will soon be filled with renderings of the different clothes talked about by the five performers who take the stage – Gillian Eichenberger, Elaine Jennings, Karen Pinomaki, Brittany Nicole Sims, and Jill Wagoner. Sims and Wagoner will be replaced by Heather Gibeson and Daniela Innocenti Beem for the show’s closing weekend.
The performers relate, via monologues or short scenes, recollections triggered by clothing that range from amusingly sweet to poignantly sad to boisterously hilarious. While Wagoner’s diatribe on the purse was the highlight of the evening, all five Libby Oberlin-directed performers had moments that entertained or emotionally resonated with the audience.
The opening night performance ran two hours and ten minutes inclusive of a twenty-minute intermission. While pacing might improve somewhat over the run, the show would play better as a 90-minute one act.
Covid protocols in place included the need for audience members to provide proof of vaccination and to wear a mask the entire time they were in the building, which they did. Individuals feeling the need for a “mask break” were encouraged to enjoy their intermission purchases outside of the theatre. A pre-show announcement noted that the entire cast, crew, and staff of the Playhouse were fully vaccinated.
The cast wore face shields that affected the quality of the amplified sound, but it’s a trade-off I’m willing to accept in these times. An erratic speaker in the area in which I originally sat was more of a distraction.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore is a rare theatrical opportunity for women to rejoice and commiserate over shared experiences and for men to perhaps gain some insight into those experiences.
‘Love, Loss, and What I Wore’ runs live through August 29 on the Monroe Stage at 6th Street Playhouse. 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa. Fri & Sat, 7:30pm; Sat & Sun, 2pm. $18-$29. Also available for streaming. 707.523.4185. 6thstreeetplayhouse.com
Photos by Miller Oberlin
This review originally appeared in an edited version in the North Bay Bohemian and Pacific Sun