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5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche

25th February 19

Laura Davidson

A short run of Mish Mash Media Productions’ “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche”, written by Chicago playwrights Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood, is currently at Artscape’s Arena Theatre. The play is a satire on conservatism and the melodramatic fears of 1950s middle America during the cold war.
The era is brought to life by an all-female cast wearing sporting rolls of pinned hair and swirly pastel dresses. We meet the ladies in the bunkered-down pre-Apocalyptic world of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein. The unexpectedly frank title of the play is deliciously ironic. Given the society’s obsession with baking the perfect quiche, its feminist connotations are questionable. Initially at least, Stein’s sexuality is firmly in the closet too.

The audience is drawn into the society – with more than a hint of secret handshakes – through name badges and the occasional direct address. Characterisation is beautifully delineated by the stellar cast. The ‘widows’ have gathered for the unveiling of the winning delicacy at the annual quiche-baking competition. Imke du Toit (Deputy Principal of Cape Town’s Rainbow Academy) plays the indomitable Vern Schultz. She has tasked herself with protecting the community centre against a communist invasion. As the siren whine signals the coming of the Communists, the women realise that life is not a dress rehearsal. We enter a twilight world where repression loosens with varying levels and speed of self-realisation.

In their air-sealed bunker, the ladies may be the last people on earth, and it’s up to the quiches to save the planet. British decorum falters when self-satisfied President Lulie Stanwyck (Regina Malan) shows favour to chirpy events chairwoman Wren Robin (played by Nurit Graff). Hesitant Yorkshire-born Ginny Cadbury (a highly convincing Jessica Stanley) simply can’t get enough of that prize quiche. Expect euphemisms galore as the ladies have one thing in common – a hatred of meat. Rather unfairly, Lulie’s brief meat-forage for the sake of mankind is forgivable, whereas that of Margery is not. A number of plot twists brings this ludicrous anti-parable to a close, and the encroaching dust-cloud of Armageddon results in sweet, naieve Dale Prist (a preppy Lee van Der Merwe) apparently meeting a sticky end. However, life must go on – which forward-thinking Lulie has ensured. This frolic deserved a bigger audience than that in attendance on the night I reviewed. If you enjoy irony with a touch of tongue-in-cheek surrealism, this play is for you.

Tickets: R150-180
Dates: 19 – 23 February 2019
Time: 7.30pm

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