It's 1956, and we're all at the annual quiche breakfast of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein, and the members of the society, widows all, are salivating with anticipation. That is ostensibly the premise of the highly entertaining 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, written by Andrew Hobgood and Evan Linder and directed by Sarah Gitenstein. There is more here than meets the eye, however, and 5 Lesbians is better seen than explained. Try this: add the Five Lesbian Brothers (hmm, what is it about lesbians and the number 5?) to Steel Magnolias and Charles Busch, then subtract drag, and maybe you have a sense of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche. Maybe.
Photo: Dixie Sheridan
The show starts a little slow, treading familiar ground: food = sexual sublimation is not a new idea, nor is the concept of camp 1950's women. While the beginning is funny, it's nothing special. But then the atomic bomb explodes, and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche goes someplace altogether different and does so with stylish insanity (insane style?).
Among its many strengths, 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche uses audience participation remarkably well. The audience is never badgered, and when the characters start asking people in the audience to announce that they are lesbians, they stick to men, where the announcement is automatically funny. And soon they have the whole audience announcing that they are lesbians, whether they are straight, bi, trans, gay, or, yes, lesbian. It is delightful, and for someone who came out in the 1977, it is also extremely moving.
Oh, and the show has one of the funniest death scenes I have ever seen.
[end of spoilers]
So here's the bottom line: The writing varies from funny to hysterically funny (though I would cut five to ten minutes of the beginning), the direction is smart, and the acting is exactly what it should be, which I suppose is another way of saying perfect. (The performers are Caitlin Chuckta, Rachel Farmer, Megan Johns, Thea Lux, and Maari Suorsa.) No matter your gender or sexual orientation, if you're looking to spend 75 minutes laughing, 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche is for you. It's at the Soho Playhouse through late November.
(press ticket, 7th row center)