Sacramento, CA 95819
Intimate Apparel is a bittersweet story of a Victorian seamstress, stitched together by short scene snippets. In this Celebration Arts production, we are introduced to Esther Mills, an African-American who makes her living in the early 1900s sewing intimate-apparel undergarments for upper-class women, as well as the ladies of the night.Inspired by playwright Lynn Nottage’s grandmother, the play gives insight into a self-sufficient woman who struggles to obtain success in business, but not in the ways of the heart. Nottage gently pieces together issues of the day, including financial freedom, marriage, illiteracy and cultural inequalities, but wisely keeps the focus on the fascinating figure of Esther. Though her carefully stitched-together life begins to unravel through unfortunate incidents, it becomes clear that Esther’s indomitable spirit will triumph.
Traci Scott as Esther mixes together a wonderful blend of vulnerability, bashfulness, boldness and strength. Though she starts out a bit hesitantly, Scott makes us believe in and care for Esther even when the character wobbles. There are some loose threads in this—the pacing and set changes need tightening, but the portrayal by Scott, along with performances by Rick Cook, Doug Kester and Cesha Ellison, creates a warm and intricate story quilt.