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Whether you prefer your quiche with or without meat, ‘5 Lesbians’ will have you laughing your ass off


When Bill Taylor and the Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance selection committee booked 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, they couldn’t have known that the Supreme Court would hear oral arguments just a short week prior to the dark comedy’s opening on whether the civil rights laws barring workplace discrimination based on gender also apply to gender identity and sexual orientation. Lest you labor under the misconception that being in the closet (or in the case of 5 Lesbians, a nuclear bomb fallout shelter) is a phenomenon relegated to the past, 46% of LGBTQ Americans remain closeted in the workplace according to a 2018 Human Rights Campaign Foundation report.

In the scenario depicted by playwrights Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood (yes, ironically, they’re both dudes), the ladies in this ensemble piece euphemistically refer to themselves as “widows” and display an almost obsessive interest in quiche (also code) and eggs. They’ve assembled for a breakfast meeting of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein and if the reference to these suffragettes isn’t direct enough, each member of the audience (including the men) is issued a name tag with a female name. After all, the Society’s motto is “No men. No meat. All manners.”

Just saying.

On the dais are the Society’s Chairwoman, Wren Robin (Dena Galyean), President, Lulie Stanwyck (Lucy Sundby), Secretary, Ginny Cadbury (Anna Grilli), Historian, Dale Prist, and Building & Grounds Chair Vern Schultz (Karen Goldberg). It becomes clear pretty quickly that Robin and Dale are besties, as are Vern and Ginny, leaving the dour and austere Lulie pretty much on her own. And the dynamics unfolding between all five women and these pairings provide not only a fast-paced stream of verbal banter and humorous repartee, but a golden opportunity for each actor to introduce their strong and resolute character to the members sitting comfortably in the Foulds Theatre proscenium.

Pretty in pink, Galyean is energetic and buoyant as the Society’s Chair. Attired in powder blue, Mitchell is charming and endearing, particularly during the sequence in which she recounts her somewhat twisted past. Sporting a royal blue number, Goldberg is intense, focused and perhaps the most masculine in interest and mannerisms. Wearing tangerine, Annie Grilli masterfully conveys a wonderful sense of nervous anxiety befitting a woman who’s not only unsure of her true sexual orientation but whether, as a recent transplant from Britain, she actually fits in. Brandishing a farmyard yellow apron over a pastoral green dress, Sundby seethes with the deflective passive aggression of a woman harboring a deep, dark secret.

In spite of some last minute substitutions, the cast has achieved considerable chemistry that not only lends itself to pinpoint comedic timing, but adds to the overall believability that these women are and would like to be more than mere Sisters of Gertrude Stein. That is not only a tribute to each of these accomplished actors, but to director Stephanie Davis – with the clear winners being everyone who sees the show.

Unfortunately, it takes a nuclear detonation to release these women from the restraints placed by societal propriety on the expression of their sexual orientation. Let’s hope that nothing that dire is required to free today’s LGBTQ people from their equally oppressive closets.


  • 38% of closeted workers hide their sexuality because of the possibility of being stereotyped
  • 36% say they don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable
  • 31% are worried about the possibility of losing connections or relationships with co-workers.

Like Ginny, all of this secrecy and pretension exacts a toll on workplace effectiveness and overall quality of life. Closeted workers report isolation, depression and exhaustion, contributing to workplace turnover.

“I just went home after work — I became reclusive,” said one such woman. “Being in that environment, I felt like I was building up so many barriers and acting the whole time. I was putting on a performance, and it was exhausting.”

5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche is so hysterically conceived and perfectly performed that it’s easy to lose sight of its thinly veiled metaphorical theme. Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. However, Title VII does not explicitly mention LGBTQ people. Although federal appeals courts in Chicago and New York have recently ruled that gay and lesbian employees are entitled to protection from discrimination, it remains to be seen whether the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court will agree – or whether it will take something catastrophic to accord everyone the freedom to follow their gender orientation.

Whether you like your quiche with or without meat and your comedy with or without overarching metaphorical content, 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche will have you laughing your proverbial ass off. It really is that funny. But only four more performances remain.

“Cut the ending. Revise the script. The man of her dreams is a girl.” Julie Anne Peters

October 29, 2019.





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