Alex Poch-Goldin and Raven Dauda in Intimate Apparel

Thursday Theatre Review: Intimate Apparel

There are some shows that seem to get it all right - Obsidian Theatre's production of Intimate Apparel is one of those shows.

The show follows Esther (Raven Dauda), an unwed 35 year old black woman in New York at the dawn of the 20th century. Esther makes her living by creating exquisite pieces of 'Intimate Apparel' for a range of customers and manages to have some independence as a result. When she gets a letter from a man she doesn't know, George Armstrong (Kevin Hanchard) who is working digging out the Panama Canal, she realises how lonely she is and starts a correspondence with him.

My show partner for this one was Cameron, who also loved the show. In fact, he said it was "almost perfect." I couldn't agree with him more. The show was sumptuous in so many ways. It wasn't just that Lynn Nottage wrote a great script, or that Philip Akin provided great direction, or that the set was full of innovative uses of space, of even that the actors were phenomenal (even if there were a few accent slip ups in the beginning, they got their stride by the end), it was a combination of all these things that made this one of the most delicious plays I've seen in a long time.

Everyone on stage was wonderful, truly wonderful, but I have to say I'm not sure I've seen something that rivals the energy and tension between Esther (Raven Dauda) and Mr. Marks (Alex Poch-Goldin) in my theatre going life. It was a thing to behold.

Like I said, I loved them all: Marium Carvell as Mrs. Dickson, the perfect mother hen; Carly Street as Mrs. Van Buren, desperate to be loved; Lisa Berry as Mayme, the prostitute who's singing can melt your heart; and Kevin Hanchard as George who swings back and forth between likable and loathable.

I asked Cameron if there was anything he didn't like about the show and he said "the photograph moments". It's hard to explain, but there are two places where the scene turns into a photograph. I'll admit it didn't do anything for me, it didn't add to the show at all for me, but for Cameron it detracted. He really didn't like the photograph moments because he felt like they came out of nowhere and they pulled him out of the play. I'll say one thing for them though, they did lead to lots of conversation between the two of us afterwards...

The bottom line is this is a great production of a great play and I highly recommend going to see it if you can.

- Intimate Apparel is playing upstairs at the Berkley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street) until February 3, 2008
- Shows Tuesday - Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm
- Tickets range from $20-$30 depending on the day (see web site for more detail) and are $15 for Students/Art Workers/Seniors

Photo of Alex Poch-Goldin and Raven Dauda by David Hou.

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