by Yelin Gemma Lee, Peak Associate
When I first looked up the production 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche in Vancouver, I was immediately skeptical. A play claiming to be about lesbians, written by two masculine-presenting names (Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood) nearly 10 years ago? I was wary of the possibility of another poor representation of lesbians through a male lens.
The venue, Go Studios, was smaller than I thought and I arrived in the nick of time to grab a seat. The people to greet me at the door were the actresses themselves, but get this — they were in character.
“Oh Beverly! It’s so good to see you, come in come in! Vern, look who is here, it’s Beverly!” was exclaimed as I finished checking in. They handed me a sticker name tag that said “BEVERLY,” which, despite my best efforts, was not going to stick to my sweater effectively throughout the show.
The play is set in a local community centre in 1956, on the day that the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein are having their annual quiche breakfast. Everything appears normal until a nuclear bomb hits their town and chaos ensues. I found myself unable to hold back my laughter for most of the play at all its symbolisms, sexual implications, and the pure absurdity of it all. The quiche was worshiped as the god given treasure of “femininity” and the entire play revolved around the quiche and the sexual innuendos from it. The acting was seamless and beyond my expectations, and the director made excellent use of the small stage space by extending it to the whole room. I truly felt like I was taken to another place, despite the minimalistic set.
I soon discovered that 5 Lesbians and a Quiche was a semi-interactive play. We were not an audience watching a play, we were members of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein. Part of the chaos that ensued after the supposed bomb hit the outside of this community centre was when the characters came out as lesbian. Not only that, but apparently everyone in the audience was a lesbian. At one point in the show, all the characters were going around the room clasping hands, looking audience members intently in the eyes or involving them in their story in some way — including me since I was in the aisle seat.
I felt that the fact that the play was semi-interactive positively added to the play’s quality but shouldn’t that have been disclosed to attendees so that they could either prepare themselves or choose not to come? They had a section on the back of the pamphlet that listed pre-show announcements including that “we invite you to participate in this show respectfully and responsibly,” but that didn’t feel like enough of a heads up. Not to mention that “invite” sounds like more of a suggestion, which was definitely not the case.
All in all, I thought the play was a refreshing, imaginative hit of a feminist and queer comedy. But for a queer production, I felt that it was irresponsible to not be practicing consent on a basic but important level.