Nora Ephron

Love, loss, & frocks to die for

An Ephron comedy at Triangle Productions celebrates women's bonding and the fine art of stitching fashion into the passages of life

A good piece of theater transports you to a different place, and in the case of Love, Loss, and What I Wore, the sentimental comedy by Nora and Delia Ephron that’s traipsing the metaphorical runway at Triangle Productions, that place is a walk-in closet or a department-store dressing room. The Ephrons’ tale is overflowing with skirts, sweaters, bras, robes, dresses from party to wedding, lipstick, hairdos, shoes/boots/flats/heels – even, if I remember right, a brief constricting fling with that antique instrument of torture, the girdle. It’s a fashion bonanza of a theatrical parade, delivered with a wink and an almost-audible whisper: Try it on. You’ll like it.

All for one, one for all: from left, Michelle Maida, Rebecca Wells, Olivia Weiss, Lisamarie Harrison, Trish Egan. Photo: David Kinder/kinderpix

Theatrical transit’s a good and valuable thing, but as someone whose ordinary concession to the dictates of fashion is a pair of L.L. Bean comfort-waist jeans and a 20-year-old all-purpose Pendleton shirt whose elbows have tragically worn through, I felt a little like a stranger in a strange land, wandering in a world not my own.

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DramaWatch: the naked and the nude

The first two weeks in May bring Portland stages a bundle of shows straddling the territory between the real and the ideal

This Saturday, as it turns out, is World Naked Gardening Day, and don’t worry, neighbors, I’m not taking part: I’m not really much of a gardener. The revelation, however, makes me think of another spot of news I got a few days ago from my friend Gerald Stiebel, in his weekly column Missives From the Art World. Gerald was writing about Monumental, the new show of nude paintings by the 20th and 21st century master Lucian Freud, at Acquavella Gallery in New York, and in it he discusses the fine line between nudity and nakedness:

“The renowned British art historian, Sir Kenneth Clark, in his 1956 book, The Nude: A Study of Ideal Art, made a distinction between the Naked and the Nude, considering the nude as an ideal representation of the naked body. By Clark’s definition Freud’s works are not nudes but might be called naked portraits.

An intimate theater in the flesh: Lucian Freud, “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,” 1995, private collection, at Acquavella Gallery.

“Freud himself wrote, ‘Being naked has to do with making a more complete portrait; a naked body is somehow more permanent, more factual … when someone is naked there is in effect nothing to be hidden. Not everyone wants to be that honest about themselves; that means I feel an obligation to be equally honest in how I represent them. It is a matter of responsibility. In a way I don’t want the painting to come from me, I want it to come from them. It can be extraordinary how much you can learn from someone by looking very carefully at them without judgment.’”

Hardly anyone would call Freud’s often massive portraits ideals of the human form. They can seem grotesque: hills and vales and fissures and folds of flesh; fantastic landscapes of skin. And yet they hide nothing, at least visually: They exude humility, openness, a sense of natural animal humanness, vulnerable and unguarded.

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