CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Charleston Stage Company's presentation of "Love, Loss and What I Wore" was a sometimes gritty, sometimes charming and often hysterical portrayal of women and their relationships with one another and, more importantly, their relationships with their clothes.Eight women shared the stage for an hour and a half, sitting on bar stools, reading from music stands, wearing all black clothes and gesturing minimally. It had the potential to be a very long 90 minutes, but instead it was entertaining in the extreme.At times the actresses induced cringing in the audience as cast members recalled conversations with their mothers or sisters. It was all too reminiscent of the struggles most women face as they fight against the authority of their mothers or as their own daughters grapple for their independence and identity.Quipped bits of advice like, "Always wear clean underpants in case you're in an accident" and wailed lines such as, "My life is over just from wearing this in the house!" left the audience breathless with laughter.The hilarity of such vignettes was harshly contrasted as the play vacillates between comedy and tragedy. One cast member describes the sudden death of her mother and another talks of how her father, a doctor, had her mother committed so that he could move his nurse into their home.
But the most heart-wrenching monologue of all was a woman describing what it was like to go off to college and gain her independence. That independence manifested itself in the clothes she wore, more specifically in her shoe choice. This particular piece was a summary of the whole play. It went from lighthearted and fun to dark and somber.The cast of the show should be applauded for their ability to vacillate quickly and smoothly between personas and emotions. For a play with no action, no costumes and only an easel of sketches as props, this show is amazing. It was enjoyable and a treat to see an all-female cast.The issues run the gamut of things women deal with from the mundane to the tragic, but all-in-all the play was cathartic and entertaining. It leaves the audience with a feeling of camaraderie and a slightly better understanding of the women in their lives.Much of the content is mature and there is a bit of foul -- though appropriate -- language. This show would make a great date night or a girlfriends' night out or see it with your sisters, daughters, mothers , whomever you choose do not let this show pass you by."Love, Loss and What I Wore" plays April 5 to 6 and 11 to 13, 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theater. The final night's performance will include a reception and the proceeds from that night will benefit The Charleston Stage Company and the YWCA.