Intimate Apparel

March 1, 2015

in Plays

Play (2003)

by Lynn Nottage

Directed by Summer L. Williams

Scenic Design: Anne Sherer; Costume Design: Amanda Nujica; Composer/Music Director:Allyssa Jones; Dialect Coach: Bryn Austin

Lyric Stage Company
Copley Square area, Boston, MA
February 13 – March 14, 2015

With Lindsey McWhorter (Esther), Cheryl D. Singleton (Mrs. Dickson), Nael Nacer (Mr. Marks), Kris Sidberry (Mayme), Amanda Ruggiero (Mrs. Van Buren), Brand G. Green (George)

Lindsey McWhorter as Esther, Nael Nacer as Mr. Marks in 'Intimate Apparel'

Lindsey McWhorter as Esther
Nael Nacer as Mr. Marks
in “Intimate Apparel”
Photo: Glenn Perry
Courtesy of Lyric Stage Company of Boston

A great production of a wonderful play about an African-American seamstress in New York in 1905.

Esther (Lindsey McWhorter) is a seamstress in New York in 1905, resourceful, hard-working, independent. She sews for society ladies and prostitutes alike. At thirty-five, the likelihood of marriage prospects is dwindling, but she begins to receive letters from someone she doesn’t know, George (Brand G. Green), a laborer from Barbados working on the Panama Canal. His resolute tone indicates an interest in a developing relationship and she returns it in kind. The evolution of this relationship and how it affects Esther’s life form the substance of the drama.

What a beautifully written play this is, and an exquisite performance by McWhorter in the title role.

The play is subtle and believable, not majestic in proportions, but regal and dignified in its portrayal of a single woman’s destiny. Relations with her clients, and in particular with her Orthodox Jewish fabric provider, Mr. Marks (Nael Nacer), are beautifully delineated.

Brand G. Green as George, Lindsey McWhorter as Esther in 'Intimate Apparel'

Brand G. Green as George
Lindsey McWhorter as Esther
in “Intimate Apparel”
Photo: Glenn Perry
Courtesy of Lyric Stage Company of Boston

McWhorter’s performance is restrained, but wonderfully potent. The majesty and dignity with which she and Marks exchange their feelings about cloth, and everything else, are palpable and wonderful. The moment when she gets Marks to try on something she has made is a priceless theatrical moment. McWhorter and the wonderful Nael Nacer, who plays Marks, attenuate the moment, and hold the audience breathless.

I have seen Ruined and Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage and find Intimate Apparel to be distinctively the best of the three. There is something natural and vivid in its writing, and the author extends wonderful sensitivity to her main character. Hopes build, and disappointments demolish, dreams, but throughout there remains a quiet dignity and resolve in Esther’s character, a testament both to the writing and to the nuanced performance.

What, in economical phrases, Nottage says about the forms of love that are not allowed to flourish, and the forms that are, and do, is persuasive and penetrating.

Not to be missed, Intimate Apparel is wonderfully acted all around, the talents of the cast brought out beautifully at every turn under the capable direction of Summer Williams.

– BADMan

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

esmeralda larch March 8, 2015 at 7:44 pm

what a wonderful piece of writing!
I want to see this!!!!
thanks Badman, for you sage guidance and ispiration

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