To be consistently comedic from the title, to the script, to the staging is not an easy feat but ‘5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche’ manages it with ease. From the very moment you enter the theatre you become an honorary member of the ‘Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein’, and the interactive nature of the production causes the audience to cease to think about the hierarchical nature of performers and audience, as they become part of the play.
The juxtaposition of the absurd against the serious backdrop of imminent invasion though is a major part of what makes the show so incredibly charming and hilarious, the actors jump from worrying about the vague threat of communist attack to quibbling over quiche, as well as juggling suppressed romance, all in the space of an hour. Lucy Knight’s production keeps it moving at a fast-pace as the play is so character-driven, it moves from one joke and short story arc to the next which works incredibly successfully until the end. Here, for a moment, the culmination of the plot feels slightly rushed and a little bit underwhelming, but is quickly rectified by the comedic timing of Jazzy Price’s Lulie and unsurprisingly, quiche. This shows an understanding on Knight’s part that the production is distinctly more focused on character (and quiche) rather than plot, and the play benefits vastly from this realisation for almost the whole duration of the comedy.
The cast are all incredible however and are what drive the show completely, staying in character before the play starts as they welcome you and even stopping to reprimand audience members throughout for disrupting the meeting, they are ridiculous and hilarious, and indeed reminiscent of old-fashioned British comedy characters like Blackadder. Particularly though, Lily Edwards as Vern was a standout who managed to make the audience laugh with just the slightest expression or gesture. There was no weak link however, even when there were minor technical issues these were exploited further for comedic effect, and when the opportunity arose to make the characters too flamboyant and over-the-top the acting was reigned in just before it managed to do so.
The only issue here was sometimes it felt hard to distinguish the more serious, and what could have been poignant, tones from the comedic. The play is hilarious throughout but when it tried to hit the more serious notes, sometimes they don’t quite reach them, and it becomes prevalent that the comedic aspects of the play are the actors’ strengths. This works for the most part though, as the play is nearly all dedicated to making the audience laugh. The imperfect execution of the more dramatic moments could have been down to the reaction of the audience as well, so it does become a kind of grey area as to whether this was the choice of the production or whether simply it was not received in the way it had been intended.
To take a play and to execute it so well though, especially when the process was so disrupted by the holidays, is really an impressive feat. The distinct enthusiasm with which the cast throw themselves into the characters and the care taken throughout to make it a thoroughly engaging time guarantee the enjoyment of the audience. Consequently, the shortcomings are easily overlooked to ensure an audience-pleasing and absurdly-funny production which can only get better throughout its run.