Friday, May 26, 2023

"Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche" by Melancholics Anonymous at Center for Performing Arts

The title says it all: Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche. Well, maybe not all. There's also an apocalyptic event, romance, tragedies, and secrets revealed, not to mention the fact that it's the 1950s, a time when it wasn't safe or acceptable for women to call themselves lesbians. Melancholics Anonymous' production of this funny, subversive, and a little bit gruesome play is a good way to spend 70 minutes on a summer evening. But hurry, there are only three shows left! (Click here for all the deets.)

The play takes place at a meeting of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein, whose motto is "No men, no meat, all manners." They refer to each other as widows, even though none of them have ever been married. We all know what they mean, but these 1950s ladies are too proper to say it. The Society's officers enter the black box space at Center for the Performing Arts (where Illusion Theater performs) to greet us. They explain that we're gathered for the annual quiche contest, and chat a bit about the founding of the town and the Society, of which eggs play a large role. Things are going swimmingly, until an atomic bomb explodes outside. But never fear, the meeting place is a shelter with enough food to last four years. They decide to eat the winning quiche now before it spoils, and devour it in what first looks like a scene from Yellowjackets, and then... something else. Realizing that society as they know it is obliterated, the women one by one declare the truth, that they are not widows, but lesbians. It takes an apocalypse for these women to finally be allowed to live their authentic lives. But unfortunately, they have the future of the human species to think about, and that means they need men, or at least one...

the cast of "Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche"
(photo courtesy of Melancholics Anonymous)
This piece has a tone similar to their Fringe show last year, A Day with the Newhearts, that shiny happy mid-century TV family feel, that is slowly peeled back to reveal the darker truth. Director Claire Chenoweth and the fabulous five-person cast (Amber Frederick, Bee Davis, Kate Cosgrove, Pocket Miller, and Samantha Miller) get the tone just right, that sort of campy Stepford quality. The cast portrays these proper '50s ladies to a tee, and then has fun letting loose.

There is a bit of an interactive element to the show, but they handle it well, allowing audience members to opt in by wearing a nametag (with a '50s housewife kind of name), or not. This is a great way to allow people to participate if they enjoy that kind of thing, or safety sit in our seats and enjoy the shenanigans without being afraid of being called on. The cast chats with the audience or calls them by their (fake) name, giving the show a community feel that the audience enjoyed.

The 1950s community space is created with just two walls, one with a bulletin board and a few props, the other with a window, and a vintage kitchen table and chairs. Lighting is effectively used to convey the strange goings-on, and the cast looks every bit the part of the '50s lady, from the full skirts to the shoes to the hair and makeup. (Set and props by Mady Smith, lighting design by Timothy Kelly, and costume design by Anneliese Garner.)

These five lesbians will continue eating a quiche (and yes, the actors actually do eat a real quiche on stage!) through May 28 only at the Center for the Performing Arts in Uptown.