Quiche is a pretty funny word. It’s funny enough when it’s just used to represent the quaint egg-pie dish that it is, but once it starts getting thrown around as a euphemism for a lot more than that, it gets even funnier. And playwrights Andrew Hobgood and Evan Linder use it to its full grammatical and theatrical potential. In short, quiche has never been funnier than in “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche.” But maybe that’s selling the show short.
After successful runs in Chicago in 2011 and Off-Broadway in 2012 and 2013, Chicago Commercial Collective has brought The New Colony’s twisted little gem back to Chicago, mounting it downstairs at the Chopin Theatre in a near-perfect setting for a show that eventually gets around to taking place in what is essentially a well-decorated, pastel-colored nuclear fallout shelter (Joe Schermoly’s kitschy-cute set design captures all of that wonderfully.)
So, it’s 1956 and the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein has gathered for their Annual Quiche Breakfast. The entire sisterhood (the audience) has gathered to witness the judging of the best quiche. Upon entering the space you’re given a name-tag (I was “Sheila”) that gives the five board members of the society (a cast of five charmingly hilarious ladies) the ability to reference you specifically during the proceedings (they will). And in just under seventy minutes, with all the bubbly energy of prototypical 1950s housewives, these ladies carry out the increasingly surprising points of order of the annual meeting.
In costume designer Nathan Rohrer’s colorful dresses, each character stands out with her own color scheme. And each actress has imbued her character with enough individualized eccentricities to make an instant impression that only grows funnier as the show progresses; Rachel Farmer is a force of nature as the strong-willed southern Lulie, Caitlin Chuckta delivers quiet, comic intensity as the introverted Ginny, Kate Carson-Groner plays upbeat but emotionally fragile as “everyone’s favorite” Dale, Megan Johns is endearingly chipper as the chirpy Wren and Thea Lux maintains a grounded, subtly comedic persona as the no-nonsense Vern.
As the show progresses, the initial euphemisms slowly give way to less-subtle jokes about sexuality and the comedy becomes more broad, but director Sarah Gitenstein and her cast know the art of the slow reveal and, though the story does reach absurd levels, it does so incrementally, allowing us to be surprised every time the stakes are raised again. I have always thought quiche was funny. But I didn’t know it could be this funny. (Zach Freeman)
Chicago Commercial Collective at The Chopin Theatre, 1543 West Division, (773)404-7336, 5lesbianseatingaquiche.com. $15-$40. Through June 8.