BWW Review: FIVE LESBIANS EATING A QUICHE at Fantastic.Z is a Scrumptious Slice of Crazy
The women of Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche attack the play with smiles, sugarcoated sarcasm, and thinly veiled sensuality. There is a not a rotten egg in the bunch. The ensemble frolics its way through the silliness straight into the absurd. Laughs abounds, loves smolder, and you'll never look at quiche quite the same way again.
The play by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood is set in 1956 Middle America. The ladies are the officers of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein, and it is the morning of the annual quiche breakfast. You are pulled into the action as all audience members receive a nametag of a society member to wear throughout the show. A few will be called on, and one audience member will be thoroughly chastised as part of the show. While you are not required to do anything, you also can't escape all eyes turning to you. It's a bit like being on a roller coaster and deciding midway that you want to get off. Like it or not, your best choice is just to ride it out.
The ladies of the society are serious about their quiche. They have strict rules that are expressed in their motto: "No Men, No Meat, All Manners." The meeting begins with all the usual excitement of a big event dappled with bit clever bits to let us get to know each character. While the set up is entertaining, at a certain point you start to wonder if something will ever happen. Luckily that is exactly when the show surges forward with the plot. A nuclear bomb as been dropped, and the society ladies are now safely ensconced in their meeting hall which the safety officer has cleverly transformed into a fallout shelter. Safe but trapped, the stress leads them to bare their souls and share their secrets. The once unlikely story has now become full-on nonsense in a most enjoyable way. The layers of craziness build on each other until the climax which caused the audience to bust out in full on belly laughs.
The cast is tight; a well-knit group that works together the same way that the separate ingredients blend together to make a perfect quiche. While the entire cast jumps into the absurdity with both feet, Jane Martin (Vern Schultz) is on a different level. She seemed to have been timed warped straight from 1956 rather than someone playing a woman from 1956. There was something familiar, both comforting and unsettling, in her performance. Alexandra Stevens (Ginny) provided the other standout performance. A newcomer on the scene, Stevens gave a full-bodied portrayal of the eager to please Ginny. Her comedic chops lifted the show in such a way that made me not mind when her English accent took a temporary hiatus. The other cast members, Jana Gueck (Wren), Jessica Severance (Dale), and Jessica Stepka (Lulie) provide a strong framework to support the craziness of the show.
The outlandishness of the show is made even funnier because it is juxtaposed on the proper manners and decorum of the 1950s. The costumes by Amy Baldwin and Assistant Costumer Patrick J. Lucey-Conklin are simply wonderful. The tailored bodices and full skirts affected not only the appearance of the actors but also the way they moved. The colors were fresh. The hair was coiffed, and Wren's glasses were to die for. The look was unified and extremely well done.
The show is primed to entertain. If you come with the right mindset and a flexible funny bone, you are sure to have a good time. A purchase from the bar will only help you to make the journey to High Camp with these lovely ladies. Fantastic Z has chosen another winner for their line-up, but I can't help but wonder what magic might have been lost by not choosing a woman to direct this all-female show about sisterhood. As the audience exited, there were smiles all around, but even our amusement could not match the fun that the five cast members had on stage. I have a feeling that the most fun way to view this show might be from the inside.
FIVE LESBIANS EATING A QUICHE performs at Fantastic.Z Theatre at Ballard Underground through June 2nd. For tickets or information: www.fantasticz.org