From Brownie uniform to black taffeta, lace-collared grey wool to boots that make you look “rangy”: off-catwalk clothes are the true subject of Love, Loss, and What I Wore, low-key lights glinting to illuminate facets of familiar human truth.
Based on Ilene Beckerman’s book of the same title, the play is a montage of jokes, remarks and poignant tales from five women relating a range of female experience, public, private and out-of-line. In adapting the book for theatre, screenwriter Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Julie and Julia) and her writer sister Delia incorporated stories from friends, adding Nora’s I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.
One character, Gingy, telling her life-story — of growing up in a Jewish family in New York — provides the play’s narrative backbone. The production appeals on a number of levels, not least in its star-studded cast. Although there are only five actors on stage, in each week of the season three in the line-up are new. Only Rima Te Wiata keeps the same spot, telling her memorable “Ray and I” story in a country-and-western growl. Claire Dougan also stays, but changing places after Week 1 — a pity, as she is outstanding in the “thin” slot.
Opening night saw director Lara Macgregor joining Alison Quigan as Gingy and Nadya Shaw Bennett for Week 1; Week 2 (ending March 17) sees Ginette McDonald, Jennifer Ludlam and Sara Wiseman take part; in Week 3 Barbara Power and Jennifer Ward-Lealand join Kate Harcourt playing Gingy. All are worth repeat visits to see.
LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE, by Nora and Delia Ephron, directed by Lara Macgregor, Fortune Theatre, Dunedin, until March 23