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Cleaning out the closet – ‘Love, Loss and What I Wore’

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Cleaning out the closet – ‘Love, Loss and What I Wore’ (photo courtesy Bangor Community Theatre/Nick Pelletier)

BANGOR – Clothes make the woman in the latest production from Bangor Community Theatre.

For their latest offering, BCT presents “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” adapted for the stage by Nora and Delia Ephron from the Ilene Beckerman book of the same name. Directed by Irene Dennis, the show – a mediation on the lives of women as reflected through their relationships with their wardrobes – runs through Oct. 24 at Bangor Grange #372 on Ohio Street in Bangor.

All ticketing for the show is in advance. It is also available for on-demand viewing via the BCT website and Broadway World – visit www.bangorcommunitytheatre.org for more details.

(Note: For this review, I watched the on-demand version of the show.)

A cast of seven women – Kim Meyerdierks, Sue Amero, Bunny Barclay, Cindy Elshaw, Mikayla Holmes, Esther Mitchell, Doreen Moody and Kathryn Ravenscraft – breathes life into these narratives, filling them with joy and pathos and energy until they’re bursting at the seams.

The show’s foundation is the life of “Gingy,” played by Meyerdierks. It is Gingy’s story that we follow, from her youthful crushes to some of her less-than-stellar romantic choices to her settling into a matronly contentment – all of it defined by way of her clothing. As she brings picture after picture of various and sundry outfits to our attention, her wardrobe selections serve as a sort of pictorial road map through the stages of her life.

But while her story is the framework, it's not all about Gingy. Every one of these women takes her turn in the spotlight, bringing forth these heartfelt and hilarious stories about what they wear on their backs and what they bear in their hearts. Accents and attitudes abound as these talented performers dish out the sweetness and the sharpness with equal aplomb.

A lot of these stories are funny. In fact, most of them are. There’s a wonderfully detailed story about one woman’s love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with purses. There are hilarious stories of dueling prom dresses and the dilemma of high heels.

Interspersed throughout are quick-hit interludes, brief shared segues involving the entire cast as they walk us through dressing room anxiety, dressing like Madonna, dressing in black … and dressing in ways that your mother doesn’t really approve of.

But it is when these stories allow themselves to delve into deeper feelings that “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” is at its most impactful. These women talk about the ordeals inherent to breast cancer and the realities of rape’s aftermath. They drop their guards and expose their emotional vulnerabilities. They dig deep into what it means to love and to lose. Through clothing, they examine connection.

While “Love, Loss and What I Wore” is a staged reading, calling it that does it a bit of a disservice. Yes, there are scripts onstage, and yes, the actors are reading from them. But while the cast does spend most of their time seated and dressed in basic black, with minimal movement consisting mostly of standing and sitting back down, there’s nothing static about it. The stories being told crackle with an energetic honesty; the performers engage and entrance the audience with nothing more than the words on the page and their presence on the stage.

It is more than enough.

Now, there’s no substitute for live theatre. The exchange of energy between actor and audience is a huge part of the experience. That being said, as far as streaming/on-demand theatrical work goes, “Love, Loss and What I Wore” is really good. One can argue the constraints of the staged reading format, but it suits on-demand video viewing quite well. And the BCT crew has done good work in ensuring that the home viewer is getting their own worthwhile experience.

Dennis has put together quite an ensemble, with each woman bringing her own unique and compelling energy to the proceedings. This septet shares the stage with ease and comfort, every actor finding the proper space and time in which to spread wide their story, capturing the breadth and nuance of each individual moment while also bringing them together in the service of the overarching narrative.

Each performer has highlights big and small. The monologues are the primary set pieces, but there’s a lot of joy to be mined from the rapid-fire shared moments that serve as interstitials between the larger narratives. Timing – comedic and dramatic alike – is key to the success of a piece such as this one; this group’s pace is a lovely blend of ebb and flow. Seriously, every one of these women has their highlights, their moments to shine – and they all shine through.

Growing up, growing old and everything in-between – that’s what lies at the heart of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.” These stories run the gamut of what the experience of being a woman can mean. While there’s a lovely specificity to the tales being told, there’s no denying that there’s plenty here to which any woman can relate. There’s plenty of good, plenty of bad … and more than a little ugly.

Just like in your closet. Or mine. Or really, just about anyone’s. So why not try “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” on and have a look? One size fits all.

(“Love, Loss, and What I Wore” runs through Oct. 24 at the Bangor Grange #372 and on-demand. For tickets or more information, you can pay a visit to the Bangor Community Theatre website at www.bangorcommunitytheatre.org.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 October 2021 07:24

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