In the light of today, I didn’t suspect to be given the opportunity to write a review for Basement Arts’ production of “Five Lesbian Eating a Quiche”, but last minute, the theater department received an email inviting us to see the show, despite it being what was supposed to be the show’s dress rehearsal. So at 7:30p, fifty-one people filed into the Newman Studio in the Walgreen Drama Center, program in hand, and cheered on five lesbians with a severe quiche addiction.
The show was a delight. It was funny, satirical, well-acted, clever and all-together a terrific production. Anna Demarinis served as Lulie, the president of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein, leading the show as a true powerhouse. Ruby Perez, “Dale”, and Patricia Joseph “Wren”, portrayed a compulsive, but heartfelt couple, so glad to be able to admit, in the face of the nuclear apocalypse, that they were in fact, lovers. Sofia Angelopolous portrayed Vern, a rigid, and rather intense officer in charge of maintaining the community center. And Maddy Paxson, with an unexpected British accent, served as a perfect contrast to the rest of the group, as the new officer “Ginny”, who was unawares to the lesbianism of the rest of the group. Sydney Prince’s directing was spot-on, and despite the news of the day, all fifty-one of us left laughing.
But what struck me about “Five Lesbians…” was its timeliness. After today’s announcement and as many students mourned the closing of campus for the rest of the semester, seeing five women look down the barrel of the end of time was hard. No, I’m not comparing coronavirus to the nuclear end, but for many students in STMD, they saw the majority of their work go down the drain. Performances were canceled, projects were postponed indefinitely, and no one seemed to know what was next. Basement Art’s production reminded me though, quite clearly, that in times of uncertainty, there are certain things we can, and have to, rely on.
We’ve had many discussions through my time at SMTD about creating art in the time of uncertainty. And while some may not consider a show as silly and entertaining as “Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche” art that addresses such a subject, I would wholeheartedly disagree. By the end of the show, I could’ve said, with great certainty that I felt a little more hopeful about our situation today. Maybe it was the relief of knowing I didn’t have to walk out the door and face nuclear fall-out, or that I wouldn’t have to decide which person in the room we’d have to kill. But whatever it was, it was enough to know we’d all survive.
More than that, “Five Lesbians…” was willing to share a little part of their process knowing that most of its audiences had given up theirs. Art in times of uncertainty relies on what art is founded on; community and generosity. Art provides us with a safe place to go, to return to, and to look forward to. Our art, whatever it may be, has the possibility to be an anchor in our lives, and in times of chaos and unknowing, times like today, it can provide us a roof over our heads in a storm: it doesn’t stop the weather outside, but it gives us a place to rest our heads. Thanks, Basement Arts, the cast, and all involved for a little bit of shelter tonight. To anyone reading this, I wish you could’ve been there.