REVIEW: Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche

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.

 

 

PREVIEW: Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche

Presented as part of student organization Basement Arts’ mainstage season, “Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche”, directed by Sydney Prince, is bound to be one of the craziest plays you’ve ever seen! Playing in the Newman Studio (located in North Campus’ Walgreen Drama Center) this Friday at 7:00p and 11:00p, and Saturday at 7:00p, “Five Lesbians…” by Andrew Hobgood and Evan Linder invites audiences into a 1956 meeting of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein. The annual quiche contest is upon the society, and the only thing getting in the way seems to be the imminent threat of nuclear war. 

Of the production, director Sydney Prince, a senior FTVM and LSA Drama double major, says “Recently, I have felt like there is a lack of comedy at this school so primarily, I wanted to find something that would make people laugh and make people think.” When asked about why she proposed the play to Basement Arts, Prince said, “I’ve never read a play that so wholeheartedly embraces its world and is able to develop such a sentimental and real story about something that is so comedic and strange.

Be sure you don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind piece of theatre, this Friday, March 13th at 7:00p and 11:00p, and Saturday, March 14th at 7:00p. As per Basement Arts’ mission, this event is free to the public! 

 

REVIEW: Captive Barbies

I will be honest: the last Basement Arts performance on North Campus left me with a lukewarm feeling. When I sat down in the familiar theater seats in the Walgreen Drama Center, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Believe me when I tell you: GO SEE THIS PLAY.

captive barbiesThe advertisement is fairly representative of what you’re getting yourself into–it’s flamboyant, outrageous, and there is not hint of the opposite sex from start to finish. We begin with Lee, a gay prostitute who escapes from a cop (Larry) once he forces Larry to confront his closeted past and present. From there we watch a relationship between Mitchell and Darrell explode as a love triangle involving Larry is involved.

I won’t spoil anything, but the story gets juicy without being convoluted.

Captive Barbies is a black comedy. Make no mistake, this is indeed one of the darkest comedies you will encounter. The only similarity I can think of off the top of my head is Little Miss Sunshine, with the way it threatens death and suicide, juxtaposed with the pain of rejection.

Yet the play is simultaneously hilarious and genuine. I was pleasantly surprised–or shocked–to watch such well-developed characters. Although Mike (the Pimp) was the weakest portrayal, each of the men involved was relatable in some way.The play does a superb job of portraying each character to maximize the emotions the audience feels at the climax.

Even better, Captive Barbies is easily quotable. Whereas quoting 50 Shades of Grey is done as a joke, quotes from Captive Barbies feels more like a commentary on life. The phrase “Differing realities” becomes a synonym for “lies” and Lee’s delusional adoption of various degrees from distinguished universities is very Blue Jasmine-esque.

This is a fantastic play. Not only is the writing and directing on point, but the acting as well. If you get a chance to see this before spring break, I would highly recommend the trek up to North Campus.

 

 

PREVIEW: Basement Arts Presents Captive Babries

If you aren’t familiar with Basement Arts, they are a series of FREE student-run plays and performances that typically run in the evenings at the Walgreen Drama Center.

This weekend you have a chance to see the production Captive Barbies, the Hopwood Award-winning play by Levi Stroud and directed by Leia Squillace.

The summary:

Captive Barbies is a fast-paced black comedy that explores the story of the anti-hero, Lee, a criminal that lives in deluded realities, as he attempts to escape the law after committing a serious crime. Along the way to freedom, however, his journey clashes with a love triangle between a (kind of) married couple on the brink of collapse and a closeted cop. His quest for escape becomes impossible as their stories become increasingly entangled and emotions and motives develop. The piece is a meditation on notions of maleness, masculinity, and the conflict that erupts between the true self and the performance of self while facing the restrictions of normativity.

PERFORMANCES
Runs February 26-28
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7pm
Thursday at 11pm

All performances take place in Studio One of the Walgreen Drama Center, North Campus.

Cost: PERFORMANCES ARE FREE!

www.basementarts.info

REVIEW: Sea Legs: A Nautical New Musical

To say that Sea Legs: A Nautical New Musical blew it out of the water would be quite an understatement.  Set in the small New England town of Sweet Ann Harbor, this original musical introduces us to four orphaned adventurers fascinated with the sea beyond their small town.  After a time jump they find themselves reunited in adulthood in the midst of a search for the man who pulled the plug on Periscopia, an underwater utopia the friends dreamed of searching for as kids.  The residents of this underwater world, an eccentric bunch who eat bubbles and have an affinity for prom dresses and leather, make waves as they settle in Sweet Ann Harbor, intent on creating a new home for themselves.  Chaos ensues when it is revealed that one of our orphaned friends is more connected to the crime than he lets on, and we see the true meaning of friendship as he races to prevent one of his own from taking the fall.

At the heart of this seaside tale is an important message about the journey into adulthood and to finding identity.  The orphans we follow throughout the play see their lives develop in ways they hadn’t expected, and some have trouble coming to terms with how things have panned out. Yet by the end they have discovered where it is they are meant to be, whether it is sailing the seas or raising kids in a small port town.  It seems that this struggle is analogous to the futures faced by many of the cast and crew of the production, as well as many in the audience.  The play finishes with a number about how Sweet Ann Harbor will always be there for the characters to return to, and a tear was brought to the eyes of many seniors in attendance.  The song transcends the musical and serves as a message to the graduating class about the place many will think of as home as they start their journey beyond college.

As writer Tyler Dean finishes his theater career here and embarks on an adventure to bigger and better things, the song serves as a farewell to him as well, and also as a grounding connection to a home where he found great success.  In the same theater where he and partner-in-crime Mike Tooman have grown and sparked, we see their final original production fittingly cap off their time here.

Beyond the core message of the play was a highly enjoyable cast of characters and deviously catchy soundtrack – I pity the poor soul who thought he could make it out of that theater without at least one of those tunes banging around in his head.  From the retired sailor turned pigeon whisperer who sings about his ability to see the future in bird droppings to the fully choreographed pop zinger about the glamorous city of Periscopia, each piece takes on a life of its own. If you don’t trust me on this you can see for yourself in the coming months – Sea Legs: A Nautical New Musical is set to hit YouTube just as Dean and Tooman’s previous work Zombie Farm: A New Musical did, and a soundtrack is in the works.

PREVIEW: Sea Legs: A Nautical New Musical

 

If you’re looking for a refreshing new musical created by some of our very own University of Michigan students, Sea Legs: A New Nautical Musical may be just what you need.  Prepare to follow four orphaned friends as they meet travelers from an underwater utopia determined to avenge their destroyed home. What will happen when our four friends who long for a journey on the sea find an adventure in their own backyard? You’ll have to go on the voyage with them to find out!

WHO: Basement Arts

WHAT: Sea Legs: A Nautical New Musical

WHEN: Friday, February 21st at 7pm
Saturday, February 22nd at 3pm and 7pm

WHERE: Studio 1, Walgreens Drama Center

COST: Free!

Still not convinced? Writers Tyler Dean and Michael Tooman are also the creators of Zombie Farm: A Musical, which you can find on YouTube here.