★★★★ Because this funny, touching, rousing celebration of women and the relationships between the generations and the sexes through the memory filter of clothing is written by the Ephron sisters, it’s perhaps not surprising that there are vivid Jewish threads in its fabric. Ilene Beckerman, on whose memoir it is based, is personified with huge affection in the show as Gingy, whom we first meet in childhood, with her adoring Jewish mother (a lovely sketch from Rula Lenska). Together they evoke 1950s and ’60s childhoods with images of those poplin frocks with smocking bodices and tied with a bow at the back.
After her mother’s untimely death, her bereaved father takes his sad little daughter to Altman’s Store shopping for party dresses for her 13th birthday, presumably for her Bat Mitzvah. It’s an immensely touching scene, as Gingy (excellent Louise Jamieson) agonises over the choice between two frocks and of course her father indulges her by buying both.
This show was hugely successful in the States and worldwide and is now receiving its UK premiere with five great women onstage (Rachel Fielding, Louise Jameson, Sarah Lawrie, Rula Lenska and Cleo Sylvestre) and, incidentally, women directing and designing. The clothes are brilliantly evoked both onstage (in bright scarlet) and in monochrome photos and montages to the obvious pleasure of the audience (both men and women).
By Judi Herman
To read more about Jewish mothers, bra fittings, impossibly high heels and "the archaeology of the purse", read Judi Herman's full review for Whatsonstage.com.
Love, Loss and What I Wore runs until Saturday 26 September. 8.15pm. £42.50. The Mill at Sonning, RG4 6TY; 011 8969 8000. http://boxoffice.millatsonning.com