5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche invites its audience to the 1956 Annual Quiche Breakfast, a pastiche of 1950s femininity that whets the appetite for Capital Fringe, with high energy antics, ridiculous worldbuilding, and an uproarious second act.
The cast kicked off the show with a healthy serving of audience interaction, slapping nametags on our chests and personally welcoming us to a meeting of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein. The playful chitchat let us engage in our own level of comfort and be charmed by the cast.
Vern and Wren are on either end of the energy spectrum. Malinda Markland plays Veronica “Vern” Shultz, the phlegmatic Building & Grounds Chairwoman, with excellent comic timing on her deadpan interjections. In contrast, Geocel Batista, playing Events Chairwoman Wren Robin, seems to never stop twirling, except to pose for Historian Dale Prist’s camera. Her manic energy, echoed by Morgan Meadows’s Dale, keeps the pace rocketing forward.
Kaitlin Kemp plays Ginny Cadbury, the Society’s Secretary and frequent whipping girl, especially once President Lulie Stanwyck (Allie O’Donnell) arrives. O’Donnell’s Lulie is domineering and easily affronted, seemingly cast by director Jimmy Mavrikes with a Napoleon Complex in mind.
Unfortunately, Lulie’s arrival squashes the lighthearted back-and-forth of Vern, Wren, and Dale’s different styles. Everyone falls in line and the show simplifies to a series of minor infractions on Lulie’s sense of decorum, to be snarled at, rectified, and forgotten without any narrative impact.
But, as one would expect from any good 1950s farce that takes place in a hardened bunker, the second act begins with a bang. At last, the calcified power dynamics give way hilariously as the cast passionately express their true sexual identities and vie for a taste of the world’s last quiche. It all leads up to a gut-busting special effect for Dale, just as the show seems to be taking this whole nuclear apocalypse thing seriously for once.
Throughout, playwrights Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood have dazzling worldbuilding. Dale’s estranged father, the Society’s worship of eggs, and even the bracelets on Wren & Dale’s wrists all contribute to a satisfying, though still totally absurd, character arc for Dale.
5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche
closes May 22, 2017
Details and tickets
Curiously, this play written by men and directed by a man is rooted in an almost misandristic and very binary feminism. Women are pure and men are only valuable for procreation, leaving out the middle of the Kinsey Scale and keeping the gender binary in place. Its non-intersectional feminism is almost as dated as the fear of a communist nuclear attack.
From its impulsive, zany characters to the flimsy (though well-dressed) set, this show feels straight out of Capital Fringe. In fact, its debut won Best Overall Production at the 2012 New York Fringe Festival! The edgy playfulness that defines Fringe comedies is well-established from the beginning when the audience is renamed Betty & Gladys and other period names. Though it stagnates under the Lulie administration and makes little of the subject matter besides fun, that winning energy carries the second half. If the warmer weather has you missing cheap Prosecco and branded buttons, then 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche is just what you need.
5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche. Written by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood. Directed by Jimmy Mavrikes. Performed by Geocel Batista, Morgan Meadows, Malinda Markland, Kaitlin Kemp, and Allie O’Donnell. Costume design by Kelsey Sasportas. Lighting design by Rob Siler. Sound design by Jordana Abrenica. Set design by Wes Reid. Preps design and set dressing by Liz Long. Stage managed by Jess Lucey. Produced by Monumental Theatre Company. Reviewed by Marshall Bradshaw.