Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Love Loss and What I Wore

Aux Dog Theatre Nob Hill
Review by Stephanie Hainsfurther

Also see Mark's review of The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), Dean's review of The Pirates of Penzance, and Rob's review of Constellations

Rachel Wiseman, Grace Lapsys, Lorri Oliver,
Michelle Volpe Roe, and Jennifer Graves

Photo by Russell Maynor
The stage is dressed for Christmas, so consider this play a twinkling star on the holiday tree. Filled with laughs and "aha!" moments, Love Loss and What I Wore is a girlfriend show for sure. Bring a bunch of them to join the five feisty women who kick it to life on stage at the Aux Dog.

Gingy (Jennifer Graves) is our narrator, the one who starts us off on the odyssey through a mid-century modern woman's life by sketching her childhood wardrobe. The whimsical sketches touch off memories of what she wore, when and why—and what Mother (or Auntie or Grandma) said, how Gingy felt, what she thought. The other actors join in as various characters, riffing on subjects ranging from the color black to bra sizes to body image. We can relate.

Gingy (named for her red hair) remains a steady presence and Graves as our guide is poised and seasoned. The other actors are well suited to their versatile roles. Grace Lapsys gets the skinny-woman lines so we have someone to envy (or hate). Lorri Oliver displays her astonishing range, portraying sarcastic asides, insecurity about her figure, pride in her figure (thank you, Marveline!), and the sartorial struggles of a lesbian bride. Rachel Wiseman takes on her cast of inner characters with energetic chutzpah and plenty of charm. Director Michelle Volpe Roe is the fourth accomplished actor, once going from a New Yawk accent to a Texas drawl in no time at all. I last saw her in a necessarily constrained role in After the Fall, so it was wonderful to watch this actor cut loose.

It helps if you know New York City or love her. I was reminded of the long-gone shops and iconic department stores, and the blue-and-yellow bag (no spoilers here) and found the memories delightful. The twinkling backdrop by set designer Dan K. Tabeling and set dresser Joann Francomano make it all the more poignant.

The actors are directed by the playwrights to perform "on book"—with script in hand—and you'll soon know why. This script would be impossible to memorize, harder than Shakespeare, whose rhyming iambs at least make those long monologues easier to remember. I liked it. It is like being read familiar fairy tales at bedtime, only made funnier by the antics of my crazy, stylish sister.

Fashion's follies are scrutinized ("Jumpsuits!") along the way. At one point the cast breaks into a vogue dance from the 1980s. Trends like the paper dress are given a nod with monologues like Volpe Roe's about an ill-fated dinner party. But this play is about the layers of a woman's life, not just the fabrics of her wardrobe. Marriage, divorce, breast cancer, child-raising, heartbreak, joy—it's all here, hidden in the folds of our skirts.

Love Loss and What I Wore, through December 17, 2017, Aux Dog Theatre Nob Hill, 3011 Monte Vista Blvd. NE, Albuquerque NM. Friday-Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. For tickets and information, call 505-254-7716 or visit