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Theater: Room For Cream
by Jonathan Balthaser
October 10, 2010
How do you take your coffee? Black and strong? Or light and sweet? No matter your preference, you’re bound to enjoy Room For Cream, the delightfully perky lesbian soap opera playing at La MaMa through Feb 8. Performed in an unconventional 11-episode arc, Room For Cream serves up a fresh pot of piping hot lesbian drama each night.

Set in the mythical town of Sappho, Massachusetts, the serial performances are mounted through 11 different episodes that follow the madcap lives of a cast of zany lesbians, transfolk and even a dude or two. The series has all the twists and turns one should expect from a first-rate pulpy soap opera combined with the over-the-top sapphic drama of The L Word. Secret identities, bake sales, scorned lovers, knitting circles, prison trysts and even a murder all rear their ugly heads and keep these ladies on their toes. The action is centered around the coffee shop Room for Cream, where the kooky cast of characters gather to plot, flirt, work, socialize, perform and love. Free of the heady, melancholy themes that characterize much of lesbian entertainment, Room For Cream’s tongue-in-cheek send-up of lesbian culture isn’t afraid to laugh at itself and have a good time.

Although the show got off to a bit of a clunky start, it soon began to bloom and grow, gaining fluidity and purpose until the rollicking conclusion. Staged in-the-round, audience members sit at the outer tables of the coffee shop and really become engaged in the action. We feel like we are part of this community, and in a sense we are; the theatre was packed mostly with women and queer folks.

Driven by a zippy script, the wonderful ensemble cast does an excellent job of bringing eccentric characters to life. Standouts include Becca Blackwell as studly butch heartbreaker Dire Owens and Jess Barbagallo as Bailey Donovan, a baby dyke runaway and counter girl at the coffee shop. Also, look for special guest queer art personalities including K8 Hardy and Dynasty Handbag, as well as legendary thespian Wallace Shawn, to add some extra intrigue.

Room for Cream is a deliciously indulgent, estrogen-fuelled romp, and one that should not be missed. Belly laughs can be hard to come by these days, but Room for Cream pours ‘em on.

Season One is being remounted after its fantastic success last year, through Feb 8. Stay tuned for Season Two, beginning Feb 28.
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