"In Her Own Fashion" a remarkable show starring Dolores Hydock at Birmingham's Terrific New Theatre
review by Alec Harvey -- The Birmingham News
5 out of 5 stars
For a city its size, Birmingham is blessed (and sometimes cursed) with an abundance of theater.
Audience sizes vary, and so does the quality of the productions. But much of it is solid and entertaining, quite often even better than that.
Every once in a while, though, comes something that transcends what we think is the best we have to offer. “In Her Own Fashion,” the spectacular one-woman show written and performed by Dolores Hydock, is one of those productions.
Hydock, a professional storyteller, long has made magic on stage in Birmingham, in plays such as “Lips Together, Teeth Apart,” “Shirley Valentine” and “The Lady With All the Answers.”
But she outdoes herself with “In Her Own Fashion,” which opened Thursday night at Terrific New Theatre. Based on the stories of Ninette Griffith, longtime fashion coordinator at Loveman’s, once the jewel of Birmingham’s downtown department stores, it’s a funny, touching and heartbreaking trip down memory lane.
To call “In Her Own Fashion” a one-woman show is a bit misleading. Hydock, who culled the show from more than 50 hours of conversation with the 96-year-old Griffith, is very much a part of the play, too. When she stands, she’s Hydock the researcher, a Yankee delving into the history of a woman who epitomizes the Deep South; when she sits, though, she becomes Griffith, regaling us with stories of her work, family and Birmingham through the 20th century, her genteel Southern drawl wafting through the theater like the silk and chiffon that were so much a part of Griffith’s life.
It’s a remarkable transformation, not really a surprise from Hydock, who changes accents as easily as most of us change socks. Still, Hydock’s consistency doesn’t make it any less masterful.
Director Carl Stewart’s simple staging — a chair, with a group of larger-than-life photos as the backdrop — befits the subject of “In Her Own Fashion.” It’s elegant and classy, not gummed up by fussiness or gaudy touches.
But that’s the way it is with “In Her Own Fashion.” Neither Hydock’s talent nor Griffith’s stories need such frills. They are what they are, and they’ve come together in a remarkable way.