Love, Loss, and What I Wore
At a glance, the play appears to be solely about women. The cast, playwrights and director are all female, and as I looked around at my fellow audience members as we waited for the show to start, I quickly realized that the majority of the audience (at least at that particular performance) was also female. However, Nora and Delia Ephron tell stories I think can resonate with anyone, and they do so through a diverse set of characters: young women, old women, thin women, large women, and so on. The play is almost entirely composed of monologues, punctuated by a few ensemble pieces. Each scene focuses on a particular article of clothing: a wedding dress, a favorite pair of boots, baseball caps. But the clothing is really just a medium to get to the real stories: a surprising love story, a tale of tragedy and how it changes us, and an intimate account of courage in the face of fear, even death. For example, one character is an older woman who survived cancer; while undergoing chemotherapy, she didn't want to wear a wig, so she alternated among a set of baseball caps instead. Granted, some of the monologues definitely appeal more to a female audience (such as one woman's lament about how difficult it is to manage a purse), but on the whole, the play has a tenderness and intimacy to it that most theatregoers can appreciate.
The ensemble cast works well together, and each woman gives a strong performance in her multiple roles, which deserves applause; it's hard enough for an actor to nail down one character for a performance, let alone three or four. Among the standouts is Kelle Senye (previously in the Aux Dog's The Sleeper), who actually has the fewest characters to portray (just two). Her primary character is Gingy, whose story starts, ends, and is told in pieces throughout the play. As such, Senye transforms from a younger Gingy to an older grandmother, recounting the joys and pains of her life and making us laugh and cry in between, sometimes in the same breath. Lori Stewart (who boasts over twenty years of acting and directing experience) also performs impressively. I was struck at how quickly and naturally (while, at the same time, subtly) I could see her emotions change during her monologues. Likewise, Heather Donovan (recently in the Aux Dog's The Haunting of Hill House) gives a memorable performance; one of her characters is a woman searching for the perfect wedding dress, and I can still see the tears of joy in her eyes on her wedding day.
In the end, I have in my notes that this is a "feel good" play; at times it's silly, but that balances out the emotional depth that's mixed in. The simplicity of the set and costumes lets us focus more on the characters before us, and in turn we are able to not only listen to their stories, but to also experience them.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore runs through May 5th at the Aux Dog Theatre. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays and 8:00pm and Sundays at 2:00pm, with added performances for Mother's Day weekend on May 10th and 11th. Tickets are $18 general admission, with discounts offered for students, seniors, service members, ATG/TLC members, and groups of ten or more. For more information or to make a reservation, visit www.auxdog.com or call 505-254-7716.