Review: INTIMATE APPAREL sheds light on Women's Oppression at MainStage Irving-Las Colinas

 Intimate Apparel

By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Dennis Raveneau
Produced by Joan Eppes and MainStage Irving-Las Colinas

Reviewed by Natalie Shaw

MainStage Irving-Las Colinas explores the intricacy of unlikely friendships in Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel. Director Dennis Raveneau stitches together a delicate story with an exceptional cast, designing an unforgettable experience of love, defeat and the promises that push us forward.  

Stormi Demerson entered the stage with a striking familiarity that immediately caught my attention. I knew her, without knowing her. As she continued her performance of Esther, that familiarity only grew stronger, deeper, and more personal. Her motherly-type landlady, Mrs. Dickson (played by Yolanda Davis,) resembles the loving maternal figure whom many of us know and love in our own families; one who comes from a place of caring and strength; one who is compassionately tough and democratically truthful. Together, they are the woman we were, and the woman we will become, while most of us are somewhere in between. The "us" I speak, of course, is womankind. We see both of them as beacons of hope for females in progressive society. In this hope, we wait and struggle and push our way through, regardless of interferences and detours. 

In Intimate Apparel, we experience the struggles of two black female friends in America in the year 1905. Firstly, our protagonist, Esther, who desires to be loved, and favored by another, and secondly, Mayme (played by Kayland Jordan,) who seeks a way out of her choice of occupation by way of love. They have both strived and sweat to make something of themselves in a world that rejects them for their race and their gender. They have found comfort and acceptance in one another, while pursuing a family life and career of their own. The relationship between Demerson and Jordan has been carefully constructed by the actresses to portray a friendship that is warm and tightly-woven, reassuring us of the security the two women have found in one another.  

In a different type of relationship, we take notice of the potentially promising courtship between Esther and Mr. Marks that is jovial and gentle. Blair Mitchell portrays a thoughtful and tender, Mr. Marks, who is similar in nature and circumstance to Esther. Being Jewish has placed Mr. Marks in a position of racial injustice and financial hardship in an unkind world. While religious obligations require him, by sacred practice, to choose a spouse who is of the same nationality and religion as him, he finds that loneliness persists, and his duty to God may fall short, when he is in the presence of Esther. We are left wondering what could have been, or still could become of these two characters in the end, but relish in their times spent together. 

Much to our surprise, dear Esther finds herself entangled with a man, George Armstrong (played by Brentom Jackson,) from Panama, by way of letter correspondence. She is infatuated, flattered and swept off her feet by a man she's never met. He is exactly what she's been waiting for! She can finally put away her solitude and embrace the life she's been so denied for thirty-five years. And, now that she has it, she will do, or pay whatever it takes to keep it-- "being in love with the notion of love," as Mrs. Van Buren (played by Lindsay Hayward) states.  There are, however, some warning signs that Esther is choosing to ignore; red flags that could cause her to meet her demise, or could simply be a misunderstanding between lovers. Either way, she makes a lifelong commitment that will forever define her.

The set is beautifully designed by Ellen Doyle Mizener and professionally constructed by Conor Clark, giving us a sense of disorder and broken/insecure barriers among the characters. Basic furniture designs and muted colors make way for more colorful and detailed costume pieces, designed by Michael A. Robinson in joint effort with Dallas Costume Shoppe.  

Intimate Apparel explores the heartache and hope that lives in all womankind and the relationships we inhabit. Be apart of the Irving Arts community through this incredible production at MainStage Irving-Las Colinas! Tickets can be found at

Audience Rating: PG-13 for mature content
Accessible Seating: Available
Hearing Devices: Available
Sensory Friendly Showing: Not Available
Production Sound Level: Comfortable Volume
Noises or Visuals to Know About: Flashing Lights during wedding scene

Y'all Enjoy!
Natalie Shaw

Photos by Kris Ikejiri


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