Monday, July 16, 2018
Stage

Review: Comic relief just when we need it thanks to '5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche'

In Stageworks Theatre's 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, the egg is sacred, delicious and the focal point of several illicit punchlines with double entendres.

We're also reminded that the egg is as fragile as human life and the one thing we humans all have in common — we all started as one — something worth remembering in the wake of the country's worst mass shooting to date in an Orlando LGBT nightclub.

While some might consider a saucy gay comedy inappropriate right now, Stageworks' timing couldn't be better. Co-sponsored by LGBT advocacy group Equality Florida, 5 Lesbians' insane indulgence in the incredible, edible egg is so wrong and never felt so right. It's pure comic relief when we need it most.

The high jinks begin right in the theater lobby. Each audience member is provided a female name tag at the door and treated as a fellow member of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein. There's a chance, especially if you're a male, that you'll be called on by the cast.

On opening night, director John Pinckard's dad, seated in the front row, was Marjorie for the night and the most reviled sister in the underground bunker meeting room. He was leered at and beckoned by the Sisters throughout the show.

Pinckard is a hometown thespian made good. The Jesuit High and University of Florida grad enjoyed a prolific career as a director and producer in New York, including winning a Tony as a producer for Clybourne Park. Pinckard and associate director Jorge Acosta do a commendable job in eliciting expert physical comedy and "hers-trionics" from the meticulously coiffed, man-hating officers of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein (everytime the guild's name is mentioned, all five say it in unison).

The story is set in 1956 Cold War America, with the era's repression and paranoia tapped expertly in the play without veering toward the preachy.

Actors Emily Belvo (Ginny), Kari Goetz (Lulie), Roxxi Jaxx (Dale), Jaime Giangrande­-Holcom (Wren) and Karla Hartley (Vern, and also Stageworks' producing artistic director) perform with the requisite "bless your heart" sass and 1950s housewife decorum. They're as stiff as their crinolines and their flawless up-dos.

That is until an explosion rocks the bunker. Suddenly, there's a distinct possibility that the Sisters may be the last remaining women on Earth. The bobby pins are shaken out and all hell breaks loose.

Though they sound a little shrill at times, the women are all on point. Hartley disobeys the script's command to resist camp and breaking the fourth wall by shooting a couple of knowing glances to the audience. Her deadpan rejoinders are the perfect counterpoint to the hysterical Giangrande-Holcom and bossy Goetz. Belvo and Jaxx are just right as the ingenues of the group. Belvo's quiche-eating scene is the most memorable of the show.

While the script may be a little lacking in story, 5 Lesbians is just right for what it is: a laugh-out-loud, ribald attack on fear and discrimination. Scene and costume designer Frank Chavez deserves two more awards on his already crowded shelf for yet another perfect backdrop and dresses Lucy Ricardo would proudly flaunt. His pastel turquoise and pink decor evoke an advertisement ripped from Look magazine.

What's more, 5 Lesbians creates a feeling of solidarity with humor. In the aftermath of a nuclear attack, the once-closeted ladies verbally come out and urge the audience to shout along with them: "I am a lesbian!"

And for a short time, we are all one with the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein.

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