Heart & Dagger Productions takes us back to 1956 with 5 LESBIANS EATING A QUICHE (by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood, playing @ BCA through Nov. 30th). Sadly it’s a year I remember well. Air raid sirens blared every day at noon so we’d know what to do if someone (Everyone knew it would be those Russians: Everyone was wrong) dropped a hydrogen bomb on our placid neighborhood. Preparedness, by the way, meant “duck and cover” as if hiding under a school desk could prevent radiation from scorching our skin.
No one is more pleased than I to witness a silly spoof of those chilling days of yesteryear. 5 LESBIANS is deliriously daft, purposely lame (think PSYCHO BEACH PARTY) and mercifully short. Director Joey C. Pelletier (who also directed that BEACH PARTY a couple of years ago) knows his way around send-up. His secret formula is speed and light and lots of energy. (That sounds suspiciously like Einstein’s theory of relativity… but no matter!)
The ladies of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein call each other “widow” because the L-word wasn’t regularly invoked in the ‘50s (nor was the H-word: gay men were called “artistic”) but I digress. The Linder/Hobgood play isn’t much concerned with historical accuracy. It’s hysterical accuracy they’re going for.
Many homes back then had “cold closets” stocked with canned goods and provisions they believed would last through a nuclear winter…(Just one, mind you, in a tiny tar papered closet with the whole family until the air was safe in spring). Hence the quiche. The Sisters of Gertrude Stein are gathered for their annual bake-off so there are 56 pies vying for Best Quiche when Kaboom! Luckily the butch building committee chairwoman had the foresight to install a safety door which automatically seals in case of a nuclear event.
The bad news: They are the last people on earth. The good news: They have enough quiche to last at least until the radiation drifts out to sea. But wait. “Someone left the cake out in the rain… and it took so long to bake it and [they’ll] never have the recipe again.” Just kidding. That song won’t be written for at least ten more years. But those quiches are outside the hermetically sealed room. What will they do? Furthermore, how will they populate this brave new world?
The clever, Saturday Night Live-like jokes fly by like missiles. Well, some land with a thud. The modus operandi is to just keep ‘em coming. There’s even a heady reference to Pope Joan (who “passed” for male and became the only female Pope in Vatican history… which led thereafter to the practice of genital checking via a special chair the Cardinals could crawl beneath. I’m told one can find that chair in the Vatican Museum.) Oops. More digression inspired by Linder and Hobgood’s “Pope Jones”/“Pope Joans” reference.
What makes 5 LESBIANS work is Pelletier’s remarkable, madcap cast. Erin Rae Zalaski is a hoot as the perky but rigid event organizer. Melissa Barker as the building and grounds engineer has just the right swagger to declare she’s a “big, ol’ lesbian” when the time comes to fess up. (The audience gets to, too!) Elizabeth Battey does daffy like it’s mother’s milk—and she gets the best moment in the play, hands down. She has a blast and so do we. That’s all I’m saying.
Best of all are Laurie Singletary as the Society’s president and mother hen (She lays down laughs like a chicken lays eggs, by the dozens) and Lauren Foster as the newest member of Singletary’s brood. All she wants is for her pie to win first place. When the quiches become scarce as… well… hen’s teeth (I can’t help myself), she runs at the banquet table, jumps onto the remaining quiche and has her way with it in a wild, erotic frenzy.
And there’s a nifty vegetarian endorsement in the play which sealed the deal for me. The only problem is that I’ve been craving quiche ever since.