Love, Loss, and What I Wore is chick lit on stage, but in a good way. Written by Nora and Delia Ephron (yup, that's Sleepless in Seattle Nora Ephron) and based on the book by Ilene Beckerman, the play is like taking a peek a five women's diaries, using the lenses of prom dresses, the perfect pair of boots, training bras, and purses. Instead of a traditional play with characters, sets, and a plot Love, Loss, and What I Wore is a collage of monologues (a monollage?) by five women, playing a shifting cast of characters. They sit at the edge of the stage behind music stands, glancing down at scripts as needed.
After reading the description of the play, I was skeptical. I don't read chick lit and I don't watch chick flicks. I come from the era of fourth-wave feminism and wear a gender-bending haircut. I was expecting my millennial feminist nature to be offended. I expected wrong.
From the unwittingly cruel remarks of mothers ("You look like a prostitute.") to the disturbing realities of dressing-room mirrors ("It's distorted or something!"), I was on the edge of my seat. That's saying something, because the TOTS space is small, and the edge of my seat put me within three feet of Bridget Schlebecker yelling "You?! A tiara?! Where are you going to wear a tiara?!" literally in my face.
We're in the age of the personal essay revival, and Love, Loss, and What I Wore was like a treasure trove of the best of them. It was funny, with lines like "When you start wearing Eileen Fisher you might as well say, 'I give up.'" It was poignant. It was even thought-provoking, which is not what I was expecting from a play written by the mind behind You've Got Mail. I left Theatre on the Square pondering questions like, What do our clothes say about us? Is a dress really just a dress? How does what we wear connect us to those we love, or have loved? And do I really need to buy another black sweater?
(4 stars) Through Aug. 1. Theatre on the Square, $12-20, tots.org