Wednesday, October 7, 2015


By Toby Zinman



By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer 

With a title like Love, Loss and What I Wore, this show, a Girls’ Night Out if ever was one, requires a wardrobe decision: what to wear? Basic black?  Slouchy trousers? Skinny pants? If you want to know what I wore (and you probably don’t) I decided finally on a frilly flowered frock with flowered flats (accessorized with lots of alliteration).   Summery. Girly.  Like the show. (Now there’s a concept: dress for theatrical genre.) 

Philadelphia Theatre Company is hosting this add-on to their regular season, a long-running off-Broadway hit by Nora and Delia Ephron. The cast, Mary Birdsong, Aisha de Haas, Kate Flannery, Ashley Austin Morris, and Concetta Tomei sit on tall chairs and tell stories from scripts on stands in front of them (they sometimes, with the comfort of scripts, seemed under-rehearsed). 

The stories are based on Ilene Beckeman’s book and are about dresses and shoes and purses and losing weight and gaining weight and falling in love and mothers and stepmothers and grandmothers and sisters and proms and first bras (“28AA—tiny, but not tiny enough”).  The idea is that women associate important events and people in their lives with the clothes they wore.

There is much charm here, although some of the acting is too broad and many of the stories lack subtlety and go on longer than they need to. Of the many scenes and stories, eliciting nostalgic, knowing laughter from the audience, two seem misplaced: a blatant political message about same-sex marriage  and the inevitable breast-cancer story.

Standouts in this highly credentialed cast are Ashley Austin Morris, with her quirky voice and expressive face (and killer heels!) whose paper dress story is terrific, and Aisha de Haas with her natural, girlfriendly delivery, assuring us of what we already know: once you’re wearing Eileen Fisher, it’s over.

And I ask you: what ever happened to my poodle skirt?


At the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard Sts. Through July 7. Tickets $44 Information 215-985-0420 or

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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