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Theatre Review: Intimate Apparel

28 Jan 2008

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Since it’s opening over a week ago, Obsidian Theatre’s latest production, Intimate Apparel, by the gifted 43-year-old African-American playwright Lynn Nottage, has been an undisputed hit with both the audiences and the critics. For those who have not yet had the chance to experience this enthralling theatre experience, Intimate Apparel plays until February 3rd.

Set at the turn of the last century, Intimate Apparel tells the truly timeless story of every human being’s longing to be loved. And through love, or in spite of it, exploring the journey to realize our deeply-held passions and ambitions.

Esther Mills (Raven Dauda) is a deceptively demure 35-year old gifted seamstress who designs and sews intimate apparel for New York high society ladies and prostitutes alike.

Behind her conservative and even naïve demeanor, we soon discover a very driven soul eagerly determined to realize her dreams before time catches up with her.

Too many times a bridesmaid and never a bride, and too often the silent and compassionate confidante, Esther longs for the day when she will stop looking outside her glass shelter as just the passive observer.

Then, unexpectedly, a series of letters from a would-be lover far away working as a labourer on the Panama Canal, George Armstrong (Kevin Hanchard), addressed to Esther send her on a whirlwind of emotions.

This very well crafted play, under the direction of Philip Akin, does a great job of drawing the audience in by doing what theatre at is best is supposed to do. That is to engage the audience emotionally with believable situations and dilemmas that are easy to relate to.

Judging from the vocal reactions of some audience members, it is clear that many women had known Esthers, and way too many Georges too, in their lives -- or even saw themselves in Esther.

Intimate Apparel explores the age-old human inner debate one faces when confronted with the choice to lose sight of the comfortable shore in order to sail into a fearful unknown.

In Esther’s case, she eventually returns to the safety of the dry shore. But one is left to ponder whether or not, in the end, she found greater freedom by having dared to venture into the choppy seas and leaving her dreams to drown.

Is having tasted the freedom to love and dream and then losing it worse than never having known that feeling, or illusion of it, at all?

The final presentations of Intimate Apparel are playing from Tuesday until Sunday at Berkeley Street Theatre.

Presented by Obsidian Theatre Company
Berkeley Street Theatre
(Upstairs)
26 Berkeley Street
(416) 368-3110

Friday January 18 – Sunday February 3, 2008
Tuesday – Saturday: 8:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 2:00pm
$20.00 - $30.00
$12.00 for preview performances
$15.00 for Student/Arts Worker/Seniors
www.obsidian-theatre.com

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