Cashae Monya (left) and Tamara McMillian in "Intimate Apparel." Photo by Daren Scott
New Village Arts’ production of Lynn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel” is among the finest stagings the Carlsbad theater has accomplished in recent memory. Thoughtfully directed by Melissa Coleman-Reed and featuring a superior star turn by Tamara McMillian, this realization of Nottage’s 2003 play about an African-American seamstress clutching at love and dreams is sublime in its storytelling and engulfing in its sadness.
A creator of fine intimate wear around the turn of the 20th century, Esther (McMillian) yearns for a meaningful life of her own and one in which she may be cherished and desired like those for whom she sews. The prospect of a long-distance lover (sending letters from Panama) buoys her hopes. In Nottage’s intelligent script, very little turns out as one might expect, and Esther’s strength and heart are tested throughout. The NVA cast in this deliberately paced but literate drama also includes Cashae Monya, who brings to bright but bittersweet life the part of Esther’s wayward friend, Mayme.
(Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 10/9/19.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.