Saturday, December 6, 2014

5 Lesbians Eating A Quiche—Triangle Productions!—NE Portland



“Respect the Egg”

This dark comedy is written by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood and directed by Donald Horn (Triangle’s Artistic Director).  It is playing at their space at 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. through December 20th.  For more information, go to their site at www.trianglepro.org or call 503-239-5919.

There is an old adage:  Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  A riddle, to be sure, for, without the egg, there would be no chicken but the chicken is a necessary element to create a chicken from the egg.  Whew!  So, if you do have a society, perhaps like the Shakers, in which the union between “chickens and eggs” is forbidden then it would, by definition, die out.  That, in part, is the dilemma in this play.

The setting is the mid-1950’s in a basement of a community room.  The five ladies in question (plus the audience) are members of the Widows of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein.  Their motto is “No Men, No Meat!  All Manners.”  Remember, it is the 1950’s, the Eisenhower years, where the guise of respectability was paramount to succeeding in such a world.

It was a world of bomb shelters, the Cold War, hoop skirts for the ladies and ties and suits for the gents. The ideal family life was depicted in Ozzie & Harriet, Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, and Leave It To Beaver.  And nary an ethnic person or a “variant” lifestyle visible in this polite society.  “…All Manners,”…and all Lies.  Just beneath this perfect crust covering, seethed a bubbling goulash of highly seasoned ingredients, just waiting for the 60’s in order to explode.

But, for now, the meeting must come to order.  Lulie (Torrey Cornwell), the President, rules with a rather matriarchal presence, seemingly tolerant of the members, but also carrying a rather important secret, that would not at all be in keeping within the bounds of the Society’s mission.  Wren (Helen Raptis), the Events leader, is all bubbly in her enthusiasm but a bit on the flaky side.  Vern (Cecily Overman), the Building Chairman, is authoritarian in her approach with everybody, as if scaring one into submission is the correct approach for getting things done.

Ginny (Amanda Martin-Tully), the Secretary, may keep careful notes of the proceedings, but is definitely an outsider within the group.  She is a bit ditzy, naïve and disorganized in her thoughts but has a good heart.  And Dale (Erica Jorgensen), the Historian, tries to capture moments on film for remembrance, while avoiding a childhood memory that has haunted her to this day.  And this day would seem to be business as usual, except for a rather cataclysmic event that will rock their world to the core.  Confessions are good for the soul, they say, but in this brave, new world, it will be crucial for survival.

I really can’t tell you any more without spoiling some of the discoveries that are made along the way.  The play by Linder & Hobgood, although a comedy on the surface, has some really deep insights to make.  But, as some film writers of serious issues in the 60’s observed, if you put them under the guise of comedy, or Fantasy/Sci-Fi, they become acceptable, as authors like Serling and Bradbury found out, as their stories are peppered with little truisms.

Horn as once again gathered a fine cast of ladies to present this rather fast-paced tale.  He has managed to have them pull out all the little nuances that inhabit these characters and they are presented by a very capable cast.  A winning combination of talent, humor and serious issues!  Also it is an audience participation show in which members of it are targeted at times.  One does have to feel some sympathy for poor “Margery.”

Cornwell, I must confess, I have seen a number of times on the stage from years past and even directed her myself on a couple of occasions.  She is always good on the boards and very focused on the characters she presents, as she is here.  Raptis, too, is a gem in all the shows I’ve seen her in and doesn’t disappoint here, either.  Overman is appropriately scary, a character one would not want to meet in a dark alley.

Martin-Tully is a real find and a direct contrast physically to her real persona.  But she manages to convince us of her awkwardness and ineptness of her character onstage that she becomes very real for us.  I hope to see more of her on the boards.  And Jorgensen I have seen once before and she shone in that part, too, as she does here.  Her delivery of her monologue about her childhood memory was one of the highlights of the show.  Another actor I hope to see again onstage.

And do I have any solutions for the dilemmas of these ladies?  An idea…maybe men should learn to appreciate more eating quiche…and maybe women should accept the occasional quiche with meat.  Just an idea.  And any hidden metaphors discovered in the script or this review are purely…intentional.  Bon appetite!


I recommend this show but because of subject matter it may not be acceptable to some.  If you do chose to see it, please tell them that Dennis sent you.