'Love, Loss and What I Wore' by Nora & Delia Ephron

Production staged by The Borelians of Port Perry at Town Hall 1873

Scott Murdoch

Joe Szekeres

Smart, savvy, and saucy performances delivered by a technically solid ensemble

I’ve never seen this play before, but I’ve heard of its title. ‘Love, Loss and What I Wore’ is akin to A. R. Gurney’s ‘Love Letters’ where the original casts just read from the script, and it was up to the audience to imagine the story playing out in front. This form known as ‘Reader’s Theatre’ would allow for casts to come and go as very little rehearsal time would be needed.

In a slow return to the Durham Community Theatre Scene still in Covid throes, director Helen Coughlin and her cast made the choice not to read the scripts but to memorize them. Was this a good choice? More about that decision shortly.

Love, Loss and What I Wore’ is a series of monologues by Nora and Delia Ephron and is based on the book of the same title by Ilene Beckerman. The story is a series of monologues focusing on the lives of five women and the clothing they wore at certain times in their lives. There are a few moments where the script shows its age. For example, there is a reference to the singer Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ which the ladies do at one point.

But just because the play might be showing its age doesn’t make it any less relevant. What’s that adage? With age comes experience and, for me, that’s a mystique about ladies that can also be seen as a sexy quality.

For some reason, women have this inherent instinct they remember what they had worn or what someone might have worn or not. Don’t get me wrong as this is not meant to be ‘mansplaining’ anything. Women just have this unique instinct that men don’t care about at all which I find fascinating about womanhood.

The Borelians made some interesting choices for ‘Love’. This is a story about women and what transpires in their lives and in their connections to what they had worn at certain times. Can males find anything to connect with in this script at all? Recently, I had a conversation with the Producer of this show, Carolyn Goff, who is also a performer in the play and believes men can connect with the story. Good storytelling is not gender-biased.

Recently the Port Perry theatre company sponsored an online contest where the production was billed as a night out with your best girlfriends.

Why would men want to come to the theatre knowing this is a girls’ night out? This might appear that men might not get the story.

Off I went to the opening and see if I could make a connection with the show. I also counted 14 men in the audience. If they do read this article, I hope they will comment as I would like to know what they thought.

My thoughts – go and see it, guys and yes, ladies make sure you get a ticket. These are all smart, savvy, and saucy ladies who tell a good story.

The second choice made by director Helen Coughlin and the cast was to go against the grain and memorize the monologues instead of reading them. Was this a good choice to make?

I had no problem with it at all. It worked soundly for me in the Town Hall.

From designer Shelley Martin’s neatly attractive and tidy set where every item had its proper place to Amy Caughlin’s fastidious digital designs, the production clips along at a natural sounding pace. Nothing appeared to be rushed or forced. Under Helen Coughlin’s subtle yet controlled direction, these five ladies inherently just knew when to hold for laughter or when to make those appropriate pauses for comic or dramatic effect. They sharply make the most of their time on stage as I saw distinct characterizations of many different personalities.

At the top of the show, we are introduced to Gingy (Amy Caughlin) whom I thought becomes the central narrator of the story. She is sketching various clothing designs from her wardrobe that sparked personal memories for her. From there, the various ladies step forward and begin to tell their stories in their voices about events and what they wore. Some are downright hilarious, others poignant, some sad and others troubling.

Amy Caughlin corralled my focus immediately at the top of the show. Her consistently calm and in control knowing smile on her face and the twinkling glean in her eye suggested she and these ladies are here to tell you some good stories and tales.

And they dutifully delivered. Although the ladies play several distinct characters, I’ll only refer to one here. Go and see how they handle the others.

Lara Stokes’ sharp comic sense of timing is pitch-perfect as she talks about shoes. Carolyn Goff also displays keen timing not only on why she hates her purse but also in the tough girl image she shows us about halfway through.

Annette Stokes’ story as a breast cancer survivor becomes funny, touching and very poignant, especially for those of us in the audience who have been affected by the disease in any way. Joanne Norman’s frantic search to find the right thing to wear (when she says she has nothing to wear while surrounded by a mound of clothes) is enjoyable.

Final Comments: As the Durham Region community theatre scene slowly returns, ‘Love, Loss and What I Wore’ was an appropriate choice to showcase the Borelians are back in business.

Lovely to see the tight ensemble work on stage.

Running Time: approximately 95 minutes with no intermission.

‘Love, Loss and What I Wore’ runs October 21 and 22 at 8 pm AND October 22 at 2 pm. All performances take place at Town Hall Theatre, 302 Queen Street, Port Perry. For tickets visit www.townhalltheatre.ca.

‘Love, Loss and What I Wore’ by Nora and Delia Ephron, Based on the book by Ilene Beckerman

Presented by Borelians Community Theatre.

Director: Helen Coughlin
Producer: Carolyn Goff
Stage Manager: Brenda DeJong
Set Designer: Shelley Martin
Lighting Designer: Joanne Norman
Sound Designer: Michael Serres
Digital Designer: Amy Caughlin

Cast: Amy Caughlin, Lara Stokes, Annette Stokes, Carolyn Goff, Joanne Norman, Brenda DeJong

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