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Scott Wentworth as Mr. Goldberg and Judith Ivey as Peg in ACT production of The Birthday Party.

“… you like my dress, Mr. Goldberg?”  and he says, “It’s out on its own.”

Mr. Goldberg, fictional character in Harold Pinter’s play The Birthday Party, first produced in London in 1958.

That line got a laugh on the night I attended the recent ACT production of The Birthday Party, as much for the way it was delivered as for anything else. But the dress itself should have caused at least a chuckle.

Peg, the character that dons this dress, is middle-aged and a bit “daft” as the Brits would say. When she comes down the stairs in her “party dress” there should be some awkward humor in the air as she comments that her father gave her the dress. I’m thinking her father bought this dress A LONG time ago, when Peg was a teenager. The play’s setting is the late 1950s, so he bought the dress in the late 1920s. Well then, that dress would be kind of old – right? Out of style for sure and too youthful. It all should be slightly uncomfortable and absurd (it’s Pinter!) as a women of a certain age prances around attired in an old dress meant for a girl. Hence Goldberg’s response – It’s out on its own.

Although the dress chosen for Peg in the ACT production is bit low cut with a loud print, it’s otherwise not so outlandish. It’s of the era (a mistake) and looks rather nice on Peg. Particularly from a distance, which is the perspective of the audience. I suppose the dress is a minor detail in the overall production, but it was a glaring misstep to me.

All that aside, I love this statement and I think we should add it to our fashion lexicon.

Oh wow! That dress! It’s out on its own!

 

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Photo: Drew Altizer.

Chatter, chatter all day long. I know you. It’s a marvel to me that you never get tired of talking about clothes.

–  Leonard Ardsley, attorney, father and character in W. Somerset Maugham’s play, For Services Rendered.

I couldn’t resist using this quote after hearing it recently at ACT’s Scripts: A Play Reading Series. Several times a season ACT hosts a staged reading of companion plays to the current main stage productions, featuring several of the show’s actors.

It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s a great opportunity to dress for an evening out-on-the-town.

Chatter on fellow fashionables.

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