Queer content on Vancouver’s stages is still a relatively rare occurence so imagine my joy in seeing not only a queer (or in this case lesbian) themed show coming to the Havana Theatre, but also one that was written, directed and produced collectively by the local woman’s theatre company, the Leaping Thespians. And while I give the group full marks for the obvious fun they had in putting together Once Upon a Lesbian, I did feel that perhaps the collective was having a bit more fun than the audience.
It seems in the year 2369, humans are under a “no touch law” to prevent a virus from spreading. Because of this law, humans must wear protective clothing, view each other indirectly through some sort of communicator device and have no concept of touch, love and least of all, the physical act of sex.
Upon discovering a time capsule of sorts that was blasted into space 200 years ago by a group of lesbian separtists that opposed the law, the capsule is opened and the artifacts examined one-by-one. As each item is examined, “holographic” scenes are played out and include a wild west saloon, a convent, 1920s speakeasy and even a cave in 10,000 BC. In fact, there are some 12 scenes which correspond to the various items found in the capsule with a lot of the scenes seeing history re-written from a lesbian perspective.
In its not unsurprising ending, the lesbians of 2369 (re)discover the pleasures of human contact and set out to spread the word to the rest of humanity.
Once Upon a Lesbian is an interesting experiment in that it was collectively written by the group, had six different directors and featured a cast of eight playing over 30 different characters. Unfortunately, the decision to write the show collectively may have been its downfall as the show suffered from a cohesiveness, style and flow that could have made it that much more enjoyable.
While a few of the scenes worked well (three that particularly come to mind included “The Wild West”, “A Convent” and “Outside Hamlet’s”), for the most part the sterotypes ran rampant and one got the distinct impression that the collective had more fun putting this lesbian revisionist look at history together for themselves rather than for an audience. Now, don’t get me wrong here, as I’m not sure that is always a bad thing, but I did leave the theatre thinking it all seemed just a tiny bit self-indulgent.
I did like the overall theme of the show with the loss of the human “touch” but was hoping for more of an exploration of the theme in terms of our digital world of today with, the internet, Facebook, cellphones, Twitter and the like rather than a rather simple explanation of an H1N1 type virus.
Despite the script issues, there are some obviously talented actresses among the group. Particular standouts here are Leigh Burrows who shined in pretty much every scene she appeared in and Taylor Stutchbury who I found particularly mesmorizing to watch as Ophelia in the scene “Outside Hamlet’s”. Deloris Piper also does a great job in her scenes especially when she is given the chance to use use her considerable physical/movement skills.
While the script suffers somewhat, this is still a fun evening and at its relatively inexpensive ticket price ($10 advance and $12 at the door) I still say go spend the 75 minutes and support this local group.
Once Upon a Lesbian continues at the Havana Theatre (1212 Commercial Drive) October 1‐3 and October 7‐10 at 8pm. A special ALS interpreted performance will take place on October 7th.
Advance tickets are available at Little Sister’s and Kokopelli’s Salon.
Visit http://www.leapingthespians.ca for more information.