Diary of a Mad Fashionista
nytheatre.com review by Josh Sherman
February 27, 2008
There's a very strong possibility that I do not understand the possible allure of Diary of a Mad Fashionista, the new two-person play written by and starring the "Mad Fashionista" herself, Elisa DeCarlo. [Editor's Note: Her blog, with the same title as the show, is here.] Granted, I am not a person who is attuned to the fashion industry in the slightest, so I freely admit that I may have entirely missed the hour-long joke. But I can report I was not the only one in the room who wasn't laughing.
What I can say with authority is that in terms of dramatic play structure, the piece doesn't work as it is currently constituted. The stakes are not particularly high—DeCarlo fires a number of assistants (all played by a very game Shannon Sutherland), rips Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, and attempts to name-check all of last week's pop culture couture. The piece culminates in an ebay auction about a cheetah-print coat. But DeCarlo fails to play the version of herself with sufficient cartoonish devilishness for us to hate her, or show us enough soft sides to love her. Director Aaron Haber needs to bring the Fashionista further over the top all in front in order for a piece like this to succeed with the uninitiated, less fashionable people like myself.
Certainly DeCarlo has a way with words and the dense script certainly has its challenges in a festival format. On opening night, there were enormous technical difficulties due to both the festival space itself and the production team, which made me feel like I saw significantly less than DeCarlo's projected artistic vision of Diary of a Mad Fashionista. The cast seemed particularly unnerved by the mishaps—robbing the show of any possible momentum.
But I would imagine that there are quite a few members of DeCarlo's ardent fan base who could care less what I think—and that they will rush to see this production to hear DeCarlo's wicked fashion barbs spoken by the Fashionista herself. Fair enough, I am sure that they will have a wonderfully wicked time. But to this regular theatergoer, Diary of a Mad Fashionista isn't worth blogging about.