With more than 40 active theater companies in the Triangle, audiences can select from choices for every taste. One-year-old Tiny Engine Theatre is staging the 2012 Off-Off-Broadway cult favorite “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche,” a crazy send-up of mid-20th century sexual repression and fear of the bomb.
It’s 1956 in a small, Middle American town, where the members of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein are having their annual quiche breakfast. The event celebrates the town’s founder, a pioneer woman who survived in the woods by gathering eggs from wild chickens.
The society’s five officers squabble over procedures but are unified by the excitement of presiding over the tasting of the winning quiche, selected from members’ entries. But the festivities are cut short by an alarm signaling an atomic attack. The community center’s security system locks everyone in, as it’s also a bomb shelter with four years of supplies. The idea of long-term incarceration with fellow members gives rise to confession of secret desires, some obvious, others kookily surprising.
Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood’s script has just enough clever twists and sexual double-entendres to keep the laughs coming, but its sketch-like format becomes a bit thin over its one-hour length. Paul Sapp’s direction goes for over-the-top stereotype, funny in short bursts but difficult to sustain with so little variation.
Still, his cast gamely does everything he asks (and some of it really out there), skillfully keeping energy high throughout. Laurel Ullman’s society president Lulie has hilarious hauteur and attempted propriety, while Liz Webb, as second-in-command Vern, is mirthfully efficient, landing her deadpan zingers with precision. Noelle Barnard Azarelo gives Wren a perky, gee-whiz persona; Erica Heilmann makes put-upon newcomer Ginny warmly engaging; and Pimpila Violette fills society photographer Dale with admirable heroics by play’s end.
The script could benefit from more nuanced characterization, as could the actors. But taken as a comedy club-style presentation and enjoyed with an adult libation (available at the lobby bar), the production should prove a fun night out.
What: “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche” presented by Tiny Engine Theatre
Where: Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Road, Durham
When: 8 p.m. July 24-25, 30-31 and Aug. 1; 2 p.m. July 26 and Aug. 2
Tickets: $16 (seniors/students/military $12)
Info: 919-578-1654 or tinyenginetheatre.com