By Guest Contributor: Tami Shaloum
What do you get when you mix a recently single lesbian, her long list of ex-girlfriends, and an even longer list of exes’ girlfriends and their exes? You get “Lesbian Love Octagon,” a fun, campy, tongue-in-cheek musical comedy about a group of gay women living in the Lower East Side. The incestuous cast of rotating bedmates centers around the likeable, serial monogamous Sue, who tends to turn her exes into close friends. Rounding out the cast are more lesbian stereotypes than you can shake a dildo at. They all hang out at the lesbian bookstore, drink at the lesbian bar, and shop at the lesbian sex shop. The drama between the eight main characters reaches a fever pitch when Sue and Darla, her girlfriend of two years, break up. This sets in motion a series of events in which the characters fall in and out of bed with each other, hearts are broken, and new relationships are formed.
|Caitlin Lee Reed as "Sue" and Jax Jackson as "Jerry" in "Lesbian Love Octagon"|
photo by KL Thomas used with permission
The music brings to mind Sondheim, with its layered medleys and sparse, speech-like solos. The singing is solid, with strong and clear voices comprising an array of diverse vocal styles. The cast weaves seamlessly in and out of the minimalist set design, and the characters are deliciously fun, from fashionable, sex-crazed femme Anya to scene-stealing, outspoken Wendy. Sue is, of course, the "normal" one, almost milquetoast in comparison to her flamboyant friends. Her role serves mainly to ground the others. Another sincere character is Jerry, another ex of Sue’s back when Jerry was Jenny. Now a transgender male, Jerry is dating the bisexual Darla who, Jerry suspects, is using him to add to her collection of alternative relationships. The strength of this character is his insistence on not being a token for his mate. When Sue goes through an identity crisis, there is a sweet exchange between her and Jerry. He reminds her that there are a thousand things that make her who she is, and only one of those is that she is a lesbian.
The humor of “Lesbian Love Octagon” exists mainly to poke fun at lesbian culture, including an entire song listing things lesbians like: camping, Sleater-Kinney, cats, tofu scrambles... Whatever political message the play espouses about acceptance and equality usually goes so over the top it becomes satirical. At the same time, there is a real celebration of the culture and the way New York City helps it thrive. Above all, the show celebrates female sexuality and friendship. With each character oozing more sensuality than the next, you are never left wondering why they go through so much drama to be together.