The cast (from left) are Carley Preston, Avis Judd, Carlisle Ellis, T.Loving and Carrie Hill.

For the perfect girls’ night out, head downtown to the Cabaret Space at the Temple of Music and Art to watch a heartfelt and hilarious production of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.”

Who knew that a woman’s wardrobe could provoke so many emotions? There’s a lot more to it than just having a lucky fishing jacket.

Nora and Delia Ephron knew, so they wrote the play – loosely based on Ilene Beckerman’s book of the same name. Now, Tucson’s own Amy Erbe has directed the show for Arizona Onstage Productions -- featuring Carlisle Ellis, Carrie Hill, Avis Judd, T. Loving and Carley Preston delivering a rich variety of monologues written with that inimitable Ephron snap.

Their stories follow a general chronology from childhood with its matching sister dresses, to training bras (training them for what, one asks) to the chaos of adolescence and beyond to the truly serious stuff.

Boyfriend break-ups are a natural, but getting equal time are the shoes and handbags.

If you want to flaunt your attitude, we learn, you just have to have the shoes. Forget about being comfortable. That’s never in the cards.

And if your shoes are your attitude, then you must have a handbag to match.

However, all this meticulous matching over the years can become quite stressful, until you finally shout “Screw it!” and get a tote bag that doesn’t match anything.

On the heartfelt side was the story of five sisters who loved their mom, and especially remembered how she always wore the same robe down to breakfast every morning. It had a wide stripe down the front.

But their mom died in her late 30s, leaving the girls without their family center. When their father remarried, the girls were happy enough – until their stepmom came down to breakfast wearing the same robe their mom had but in a different color.

When the oldest sister told the stepmom their mother had always worn the same robe, it was never seen again.

Staging puts emphasis on the stories, rather than the cast members, by having everyone wear black and sit in a row on tall, black stools behind wide, black music stands. The lighting is equally simple.

Once the stories begin, they continue to roll straight through life’s waves of experience right on to the very end some 90 minutes later – just like in reality, nobody gets to take a break and have an intermission.

“Love, Loss, and What I Wore” continues through April 27 with performances April 18-20 and 26-27 in the Cabaret Space at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $27.50 general admission, $25 seniors, $15 working artists and students. Group rates agailable.

Tickets online: 

 Sunday,  April 20, the 3 p.m. matinee is a benefit for Voices for Education/Shop Your Girlfriend's Closet. All profits go to this organization for this fundraiser. Includes cast reception with light hors d'oeuvres and beverage - all seats $30.



Sex becomes a weapon of self-destruction in Lars von Trier's defiant "Nymphomania: Vol. 1"

Even with nearly 50 years of sexual freedom in America (more or less, depending on where you live) it’s quite clear, after watching Vol. I of Danish filmmaker Lars van Trier’s full-blown “Nymphomaniac” at the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., that European sex comes with a completely different set of bags.

Ever the most playful poker of sacred cows, von Trier is having the time of his life keeping everyone off balance as he is alternately shocking, insightful, tender, raw and nourishing in this exploration of motivations for one woman’s dedication to lust over love.

Does she hate herself (sometimes)? Is she a seeker of truth (perhaps)? Has sex become her excuse for destroying others or is it her raison d’être (yes)?

Even today, sex therapists in our secular society aren’t sure nymphomania exists. Really, if everyone agrees sex for fun is a good thing, and fidelity is more about property than it is about morality, then where is the power in being a nymphomaniac?

As portrayed by Charlotte Gainsbourg, who flaunts her refusal to give any man romantic satisfaction, the true nympho is doomed by terminal levels of self-hatred. As the androgynously named Joe, she considers any need for sex to be an affliction.

Armed with this attitude, she becomes an unwilling captive forced to live in a land of the permanently handicapped.

As for the portrayal of sex, none of the scenes compare to the most readily available scenes of pornography anybody can watch online. This double standard of what’s available for free via the internet and what’s available just walking around the mall (for example) has made having a pure sexual experience as rare as a romantic liaison on the moon.

Von Trier has structured “Nymphomaniac” as a story told in eight chapters, four in each of the film’s two “volumes.” Joe recounts the chronology of her life to Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), the savior who found her severely beaten in an alley. Taking her to his home with the most innocent of intentions, Joe tells her story in flashbacks starting at age two.

The teen Joe, defiant in her power to control men through sex, is played by Stacy Martin. Each chapter takes the sex portrayed to a higher level of intensity, and with it, a more vicious cynicism.

“Love,” declares Joe, “is nothing but lust with jealousy added in.”

The second half of “Nymphomaniac” is still to be revealed, but this half isn’t so much about showing sexual acts as it is about pondering their motivation.  Though the title implies a frolicking level of shame and degradation, the actual experience is much less titillating.