Stockton Civic Theatre Play Opens the Closet Door Into the Private World of Women

Cindy Braden, Dani Loera and Nina Theil. Photo: George Hong
Emerging from darkness into the light of personal narratives, the women come and go, talking of many things—past and present, dresses and purses, relationships and grievances, parents, children, love and dreams. In short, a full spectrum of what it means to be a woman. 
“Love, Loss, and What I Wore” is a play by women (sisters Nora and Delia Ephron), about women and for women. But not for women only.  Which is why males should do more than wonder why women are flocking to the Stockton Civic Theatre, where the Ephron classic is in its final week at the intimate Pam Kitto Black Box Theatre. There’s a lot for a man to learn here.
Speaking from my own experience, what a male viewer of the play can learn is astonishing. For here are the answers to many of the questions and puzzles we men have about the fair sex. As for example, what a woman means when she laments “I have nothing to wear” despite a closet full of clothing. And her musings about outfits (Brownie uniform to the little black dress) that seem to have a meaning beyond fashion. And the origins of emotions you never suspected she harbored. 
Well, sir, clues to these and other mysteries are yours for the having, thanks to the smart, snappy and sometimes sassy production of the play, directed by Judy Caruso Williamson and Jeanine Mlchael Kiley, with an economical set design (by Ms. Williamson) of a few chairs and clothes rack, and a lighting design used to effective purpose by designer Greg Dart.
Melissa Esau, front, and Sherry Dumos. Photo: George Hong
From the moment Gingy (Melissa Esau) comes out to welcome you to her world and a cast with their own stories to tell, the confessions and revelations of women reach out to the audience in ways that evoke interest, concern, laughter and applause. The connection is enriched by the physical closeness of the performers to the audience of the interactive theatre. We are close enough to read their expressions and share their thoughts. When the performers talk, be it in monologue or ensemble, they make it sound far more real than a memorized script. They make it come to life, drawing the audience closer to what they have to say. 
Men who see the play may leave the theater far less baffled and befuddled by the enigmas of girlfriends, wives and daughters–at least not to the extent they were before they saw the play. Much of the credit for that belongs to the performances of Esau and other skilled performers who bring their characters alive with a rapid flow of memories and confessions that run a gamut of fun and frolic, comedy and tragedy, tears and fears. In that respect, it’s a play like none other you may have seen.
The sister comedy team of Nora and Delia Ephron (the multi-talented Nora wrote the bestseller “I Feel Bad About My Neck” and such film hits as “When Harry Met Sally” and “Julie and Julia”) based their 2008 play on the 1995 book by Ilene Beckerman. The play was a huge Off-Broadway hit and continues to be revived by theater companies across America. 
At the Sunday matinee I attended (rather than watch another baseball or basketball game, as is my male custom), the play was clearly enjoyed by the predominantly female members of the near-capacity audience, one of whom later told me “It brought back a lot of memories and it was so real it made me cry.”
Cindy Braden and Dani Loera. Photo: George Hong
On the other hand, a man leaving the theater after his education in love and loss, remarked “It made me wonder what else I don’t know.”
When you hear tributes such as these, you know that what you’ve seen is as good as it gets.
All that and a refreshment bonus, too? Yes. In a tribute to storyteller and artist Gingy, the theater’s snack station is offering a signature cocktail called “Gingy’s Raspberry Cosmopolitan.”  No joke. It’s a mix of raspberry vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and lemonade ($7). If you prefer to party in non-alcoholic fashion, just tell the friendly barista to give you the cranberry and lemonade, skip the triple sec and vodka, and raise your glass to Nora and Delia and Ms. Beckerman. Well done, ladies! My hat (or rather my baseball cap) is off to you, with thanks for a theatre classic that’s endearing to women and illuminating to men.  
“Love, Loss and What I Wore” runs 90 minutes without intermission and keeps its audience spellbound by wondering what’s going to come next. Since my own time is now up, here’s a parting piece of wisdom for male readers of this review. You will never know how much you don’t know about women unless and until you see this play.  Need I say more?
Dahlia Vocque, Sherry Dumos, Rhonda Cummings, and Cindy Braden. Photo: George Hong
Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at the 
Pam Kitto Black Box Theatre of Stockton Civic Theatre, 2312 Rosemarie Lane.
Box Office: (209) 473-2424.
Business office (209) 473-2400.
General admission, $23. 

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  • Great review! I like how you made the play seem like you were watching a conversation between women vs. actors. The cocktail pairings with the show seemed fun too. I hope you learned something new from this play!

  • Such a thought provoking play which brought back memories of my life. What a wonderful write up of this emotion filled experience. Excellent!

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