Five Lesbian Brothers Bring Love, Laughter, Surprise
by Kelsey Severson
“Oedipus at Palm Springs” offers a comedic take on love, sex, and navigating everything in between. The myth of Oedipus lurks behind a modern day lovers’ getaway. In 90 minutes The Five Lesbian Brothers deliver a provocative punch—making us laugh, cry, cringe, and shriek.
Four dynamic women play two lesbian couples who make us think: Does great sex make for a happy relationship? Why is it so hard to keep up the passion with the one you love? In our Tinder and Grinder era, where hook-ups are readily available, where’s the app for love and passion?
At Palm Springs for a gay weekend, new moms, Con (fiery Desiree Rogers) and Fran (pleasant Eliza Gibson), are feeling separation anxiety from their toddler. Con wants to regain their lost sexual spark. But Fran hopes to catch up on sleep.
Fran and Con present a butch and fem couple. Fran is the butch one, closed off emotionally. Con is feminine and in tune with her emotions. Together, they take a shot at stereotypical male/female gender roles.
Meanwhile, Prin (eccentric Elaine Jennings) and her much younger, girlfriend Terri (angelic Jensen Power) are all over each other. Prin and Terri’s sexual chemistry floods the stage. Outspoken and masculine Prin, known for playing the field, is ready to settle down with sweet, feminine Terri.
At first the play seems to be a simple lesbian rom-com with a soap opera vibe. But “Oedipus at Palm Springs” builds to shocking revelations—and we all gasp.
Con tries awkward counseling exercises which evoke our sympathetic laughter; but Fran’s constant rejection leaves my heart aching. Desiree Rogers whole-heartedly embodies Con’s suffering: we can feel her agony pouring out. Con and Fran’s growing tension fills us with raw emotion.
As Con enviously watches Prin and Terri lust after each other, she takes matters into her own hands, literally. She masturbates in the pool. She takes us by surprise—evoking laughter and a “Yeah, Girl!” Applause for Rogers’ authentic acting of a woman with needs!
They all fight, laugh, and hug it out! The foursome’s chemistry is electric. But Prin crosses a line in a cringe-inducing hot tub scene. Rather than being seductively raunchy, it seems simply awkward.
Joni (mysterious AJ Davenport), the blind, spiritual resort keeper, provides comic relief. She “reads keys,” guides them on vision quests, and wanders around with her butt exposed.
Although Joni’s antics bring an easy laugh, she becomes central to the darkening mood. She plays an eerie prophet for the hidden Oedipus story. Joni subtly steals every scene she’s in, and we love her! Her words echo as “Oedipus” takes a twist.
Subtle director Kathryn L. Wood knows how to weave a story. Wood introduces us to five distinct women who spin out of control while seeking relaxation in a gay mecca. They fall in and out of love and work hard on their relationships. “Oedipus” leaves us caring deeply for these complicated and funny women.
“Oedipus at Palm Springs” by The Five Lesbian Brothers, directed by Kathryn L. Wood, at Theatre Rhinoceros. San Francisco, through Sunday, July 22, 2018. Info: therhino.org
Cast: AJ Davenport, Eliza Gibson, Elaine Jennings, Jensen Power, and Desiree Rogers.