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Theater Review: “Quiche” baked just right at Civic

All things created by men are often made better by women.

Only an ensemble of five ladies, bold in their unmoved stature, could ring this sentiment to be true.

In Civic Theatre’s latest one-act, a hilariously sapphic ode to quiche written by two men, these women prove the strength of collective womanhood.

“Five Lesbians Eating A Quiche” could have been easily over-baked, as a result of its almost papery script, but it ended up being anything but.

It became, rather than a statement piece on lesbianism because that isn’t something men can decide, a master class in comedy.

Quiche, by its very nature, is already powdery, unsavory, and the last bakery delicacy to make one quiver.

When you add five lesbians to the ingredients, it becomes a pie - are we all agreed that quiche is pie? - worth taking a bite of. Or, in the case of the play’s climax, an intentional lick that leaves no crumb untouched.

The year is 1956. What is most frightening is the parallel to today’s world. Change the notable yellow tint of the 1950s’ wall scheme, swap the knit dresses for crop tops, and it could almost read as 2024.

Like women of today, though, this ensemble of five making up the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein, they refuse to let a repressive space define them; they are the space.

Heavily influenced by “Saturday Night Live,” or improv comedy of the same cloth, the play immediately feels like a high-energy satire that begs for laughter. Each scene is met with an acting style that is hard to originate, replicate, then deliver.

The way these women understood wit, and how to live in it, is something to be studied.

Leading the way are Marley Mathias as Vern, Lana Brucker as Ginny, Amanda Lissette as Dale, Jen Gelber as Wren, and Kelly Minner-Bickert as Lulie. Each actor led with their own archetype of woman, but by the end, you realize how harmonious they all are as an unstopping ensemble. Lissette’s monologue mid-play is a standout moment that gives value to the versatility of the production, and their range as performers.

If a universe with “no men, no meat, all manners” is as funny as the one that they create, count me in. Salivating over quiche, an improbable task, becomes almost possible with their humor at the wheel.

Continuous laughing is only achieved when the source material is given room to breathe. Sometimes, it is possible through just the opposite: a stream-of-consciousness approach that yields natural reflex.

Director Rae Labadie seems to have given the cast the script, have them take it in once for line memorization, and then tossed it aside in favor of a free-form dialogue.

The compliment is that this quintet of zanily unhinged lesbians could dismiss a script made for women by men, and instead, Labadie could direct solely on their sensibility.

“Quiche” only would work as a play if you had the type of cast that could handle the weight of detecting comedic timing, and then running away with it. Each egg-enthused widow does this with ease as the sisters in the audience - with me being Elizabeth for the night - come along for the ride with them.

“Five Lesbians Eating A Quiche,” 7:30 p.m. June 21, 22; 2 p.m. June 23, Civic Theatre of Allentown, Theatre514, 514 N. Nineteenth St., Allentown. Tickets: 610-432-8943, http://www.civictheatre.org

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The cast of “Five Lesbians Eating A Quiche,” Civic Theatre of Allentown.