Play Review: “Intimate Apparel” Takes off on Opening Night

An advertisement for "Intimate Apparel," by Lynn Nottage, stands outside of Olin Hall. The play opens the theater department’s 2019-2020 season (Photo by Jordan Revenaugh).

The cast of “Intimate Apparel” brought the drama and laughter of long distance relationships in a time before smartphones and social media to a delighted opening night audience on Friday.  

Written by Lynn Nottage and directed by Stephanie Henderson, visiting assistant theater professor, “Intimate Apparel” is a tightly-wound tale of an African American seamstress navigating the straits of love, race and class in New York City at the turn of the century. 

 Senior Mercedes Pace plays Esther, a level-headed and even-toned spinster who has spent her entire adult life working, with no prospects or interest in marriage. She is caught by surprise when she receives a letter from George, played by junior Sean Bonner, a charming but beleaguered Caribbean laborer working on the Panama canal, who is thousands of miles from New York. The two strike up a relationship of correspondence as Esther is harried by her nosy friends and clients while attracting the attention of the kind and adorable fabric salesman Mr. Marks, played by sophomore Sam Vanderveen. 

The story features drama and comedy in no short supply. Whether Esther is yanking desperately at the mile-long laces of a shimmering corset or outraged at a betrayal that has just unfolded before her eyes, Pace plays the role with both composure and poignancy. 

The team of actors supporting Pace portrays a cast cut from a strata of race and class including senior Juji Berry as exuberant, southern-fried Mrs. Van Buren and senior Ikpemesi Ogundare as Esther’s overbearing mother hen-slash-landlady Mrs. Dickson. Regardless of role, everyone bounces effortlessly against the straight man in Pace’s Esther. 

“Intimate Apparel” is staged in the smaller Black Box Theater, which lets the even smaller cast shine in a precise set that turns on a dime to portray each character’s cozy living and workspaces. This is punctuated by simple, warm lighting that adds even more to the domestic, vintage feel of the show. 

The show plays through Oct. 5 at the Herrick Theater, located in the Dow. Admission is free with a valid Albion College ID and $5 without.


Show Dates:

Friday, September 27 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, September 28 at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Sunday, September 29 at 2 p.m.

Wednesday, October 2 at 8 p.m.

Thursday, October 3 at 8 p.m.

Friday, October 4 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, October 5 at 8 p.m.

About Kevin Kartanata 3 Articles
Kevin is a senior from Monterey Park, CA majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. In his spare time, he enjoys playing complicated board games, reading pop culture criticism, and dreams of one day retiring to a ranch in the middle of nowhere with as many dogs as possible.

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