You need fresh ingredients to whip up a delicious quiche, especially when it’s served with a dollop of self-effacing satire. Luckily for Mobilians, local theatrical troupe Company 11 is bringing enough to feed everyone.
Comedic appetites can be sated when Company 11 stages “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche” at Bellingrath Hall at Central Presbyterian (1260 Dauphin St.) through mid-November. The finale of Company 11’s inaugural season finds them migrating up the block to fresh confines from their previously cozy digs.
“We’re setting up this new space for 90 but we think we can get an audience as big as 250 in there if we need it,” director Chris Hill said.
Hill was the Company 11 board member who spotted the comedy while searching for shows. Obviously, the title grabbed him.
He surfed across clips, read raves and was hooked. Hill found an omen in his research as well.
“Rachel Farmer is a Mobile native and she was in the original touring cast. I had never heard about it or seen it. I don’t know that it’s ever been done around this area,” Hill said.
The setting is 1956 as the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein have their annual quiche breakfast. The cast — Beth Bydalek, Lisa Costa, Victoria Johnson, Tania Radoslovich and Jamie Yerby — compose the judging committee. The rest of the sisterhood is played by the audience itself.
“As soon as people enter the door, the actors will be working the box office, concessions with other volunteers,” Hill said. “Audience members will get a nametag with a woman’s name so everybody has to kind of fit in and be part of the sisterhood with the actors on stage.”
That includes hearing onstage chit-chat about some of the audience members — who is liked, who is on someone’s bad side. One far-flung review suggested the experience is especially fun with a couple of drinks in you.
Mobilians? Have a drink? The trick might be getting locals to stop at a couple.
“It’s done in a thrust stage on the floor so it’s very much in your face and no fourth wall at all. Everybody is met right with the action from the time they enter the door,” Hill said, chuckling.
As dialogue continues, it turns out there are an inordinate number of war widows in the sisterhood. That’s the explanation for the dearth of husbands, anyway.
Despite their celebration of “the power of the egg,” the Cold War rages. Eventually, the neuroses of the era loom and in their atomic panic our hunches about the lack of male companionship are confirmed.
The two-act, 90-minute show starts out campy, then goes zany and by the end is in some pretty racy territory. It never lets up on the laughs.
Company 11 has moved into a building affiliated with a church but maintain their initial aim toward provocative fare is unswayed. They were honest with the property owners.
“Unapologetically progressive, edgy, uncensored theater and art is still our central purpose,” Hill said. “Our thing is we just want to get people thinking and talking and so we can do that anywhere, especially around people who might disagree with us.”
The show runs Nov. 8-17. Curtain is at 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, 9, 15, 16 and 17. Nov. 10 has a 2 p.m. curtain. Tickets cost $15, $12 for seniors and students.
It’s an apt directorial debut for Hill. A longtime veteran of Mobile theater, he’s worked backstage at various theaters, done stage management, costumes and set design and served on the Mobile Theatre Guild board. Apropos of this recent development, he took a turn on the boards as one of the drag queens in the South of the Salt Line production, “Ambushed by the Tea Party.”
“[Being director] is different whenever you get all the ideas and people are helping to support to make your ideas happen. It’s been a little freeing,” Hill said.
He hints at other Company 11 changes. Shows will only be announced six months in advance, an effort to keep subjects and selection as topically relevant as possible.
“We want the freedom to present art when it needs to be seen,” Hill said.
However, the sisterhood takes precedence. Get these eggs hatched first.
“With this one, I’m surrounded by a really good team of folks helping keep things organized. It’s been a really great process and the girls have been ready to face an audience for weeks now,” Hill said.
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