By Adele Cooke
Picture the scene: it’s 1956, and the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein are enjoying their annual quiche breakfast, when the nuclear apocalypse begins. This may seem like an unlikely premise, but we’ll indulge it. Sat in the Assembly Rooms I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I was in for a treat. What began as an exploration into 1956 feminine domesticity became a stomach achingly funny show, which was both in equal measures farcical and delightful. Audience members were left in fits of laughter as the show delivered effective comedy with perfect timing.
This play has earned its acclaim. Opening at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2011 and going on to win Best Overall Production the following year, it has since received a significant cult backing –evidently for good reason. The main delight of the show lay in the innuendos. Ranging from comments on communism to coming out, the play often bordered on absurd. Rife with remarks about quiche, sexuality and nuclear warfare, the show was an intriguing mix of ingredients. But, somehow, it blended beautifully. Described on their Facebook page as “a side splitting, surprisingly emotional, hysterically funny, cult hit”, I’m elated to say they weren’t lying.
Ella Blaxhill excelled as Ginny, achieving the perfect marriage of comic timing and clear delivery. Following success in The Ritual Slaughter of George Mastromas, Blaxhill was brilliant in the role, and should be commended for giving an outstanding performance. Notable mention should also be made to Mally Capstick, Rosie Minnitt and Lily Edwards, who were highly convincing in their roles and sustained high energy throughout. Meanwhile, Jazzy Price was exceedingly effective as the prudish antagonist we love to hate – neck tie in tow. What was wonderful to witness was the camaraderie of the crew, who evidently enjoy eating quiche together on and off stage. With synchronised dance moves, singing in unison and a joyous slow-motion section, this level of cast cohesion is something other productions should take their cue from. I also greatly enjoyed the audience participation, which helped to warm the room and came in handy when the quiche dish happened to break part of the way through. The good spirit of the cast and their ability to banter with their audience was wonderful to see. This was especially evident during the victimisation of the fictional character Margery, a joke which was joyously sustained throughout. Director Lucy Knight and assistant director Damson Young should be commended as this show is the epitome of everything Durham student theatre should strive for: polished, professional and entertaining. The Assembly Rooms are a large space to occupy, but the cast did an impressive job, filling the room with personality.
Hild Bede Theatre are excelling. Following success last year with Ella Hickson’s Eight, this show is another jewel in the crown of one of Durham’s strongest student theatre groups. I’m sure this isn’t the last success we’ll see under the HBT name. If you haven’t already I would urge you to see this show, and anything else Hild Bede theatre produce in the near future. Oh, and don’t forget – RESPECT THE EGG!
Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche is being performed at 19:30 in The Assembly Rooms from Thursday 26th until Saturday 28th October. Book your tickets here.
Photograph: Rosie Dart