The wit and wisdom of Nora Ephron so deliciously displayed in the movies Julie & Julia, the classics Heartburn, and You've Got Mail, is served up warm and wonderful at the Westside Theater in the play, Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Five characters bond, bicker, and betray in a girl fest that extends to the actors themselves.
On Thursday, Michele Lee, Debra Monk, Katie Finneran, Tracee Ellis Ross, Casey Wilson, all chicly attired in black, ably juggled the script from an original book by Ilene Beckerman and ushered in a new batch of jokes, jabs, and cartoons of key clothes.
The play opens with a Proustian conceit minus the madeleine: memories can be triggered-not by the taste of that infamous cookie-but by the outfits one wore: Brownie uniform, tutu, prom dress. The women riff on black, as in, let's admit it, black is the new black. Says one, when I wear something else, I regret it. Or the figure camouflage of the voluminous Eileen Fisher look that fools no one. Even the men in the audience got it.
And the women: You could see they were having a great time in that intimate theater. Michele Lee said she learned something new: at a critical point, she draws herself in her own outfit. I especially loved the way she got the lapels of her jacket. Pretty good for a non-artist.
At the afterparty at Marseilles, Delia Ephron, Nora's sister and writing partner, noted, each new set of actresses changes the play, adding story lines as when Rosie O'Donnell told, from her mother's life, of having cancer at 39. The role has changed hands a few times, but the story line stayed in.
A poignant account of childhood pain, shtick on dating, or shopping for the perfect purse, each vignette hits a consummate urban nerve. Of course, I wore black.