In 1956, the United States and the Soviet Union were embroiled in a hot Cold War. Not a missile had been fired, but the looming threat was ever present. Citizens and school children were taught to “duck and cover” in the case of an atomic bomb exploding. Fall-out shelters were built and stocked with provisions to enable survivors to wait out the radiation poisoning. It was also a time of prosperity when middle class women had the luxury of diverting their time and energy to beneficent organizations.
In What If? Productions’ farce, Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche, at Threshold Repertory Theatre, the five enthusiastic officers of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein are hosting their Annual Quiche Breakfast, where their motto, “No men. No meat. All manners” is reverently upheld. The celebrated quiche is a sensual treat for the club of approximately 90 members, which includes the exuberant five characters and the audience members.
For club president Lulie Stanwyck (Becca Anderson), quiche and its main ingredient, eggs, are an obsession. Some would call it a fetish. Each year, a club member’s quiche is selected as the prize-winning quiche, and in 1956, the winner is Veronica “Vern” Schultz (Susan Kattwinkel), the club’s resident expert on bomb shelters and atomic fallout. Taking the first bite of the quiche is an honor, and is to be awarded to a deserving member chosen by the omnipotent president Lulie. The newest officer, Ginny Cadbury (Abby Campbell), earnestly petitions to be the first taster, but Lulie bestows the honor on the extremely peppy and devoted Wren Robin (Beth Curley). That single quiche and Dale Prist’s (Andrea Conway) willingness to repopulate the town could be the key to the survival of humanity after an atomic bomb explodes. Dale’s secret childhood trauma is an obstacle to humanity’s survival, but also an opportunity for Conway’s comedic storytelling talents to blossom like a Georgia O’Keefe orchid.
The set decorations of sweet blue and white gingham prints and blue, white, and yellow streamers are festive and wholesome. The period costumes are appropriate for the ladies of the Society, ranging from classically conservative pant suits to youthful and trendy dresses. Lulie, at the top of the pecking order, is dressed to rule in her vintage coral suit jacket over a black and white gingham dress, matching hat and gloves, and perfectly coiffed tresses. Vern’s purple baggy pantsuit fits her engineer-tomboy personality, and young, statuesque Ginny is shapely in the flowing skirt, tight sweater, and wide belt.
In over-the-top, melodramatic style, Evan Linder’s and Andrew Hobgood’s comedy incorporates some improvisational elements to bring the plot to a climax and keep the audience laughing. Five Lesbians is pure fun. The surprise plot twists should be protected, but it’s safe to say that the actresses’ character developments, quirky mannerisms, and all-out commitment are more than satisfying. You may come away craving quiche.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.