In Theatre Rhino’s “Oedipus at Palm Springs,” from left, Eliza Gibson, AJ Davenport, Desiree Rogers, Jensen Power and Elaine Jennings portray women whose lives take unexpected turns. (Courtesy David Wilson)

Lesbian vacation getaway goes wild in ‘Palm Springs’

Things spin wildly, mostly amusingly, out of control, at a vacation getaway for two lesbian couples in “Oedipus at Palm Springs.”

Theatre Rhinoceros, the country’s oldest queer theater troupe, stages the entertaining local premiere of the show by The Five Lesbian Brothers, a New York troupe (Maureen Angelos, Babs Davy, Dominique Dibbell, Peg Healey and Lisa Kron) making satirical, counter-culture, lesbian feminist theater since the 1980s.

Their 2010 show “Oedipus,” onstage at the Gateway Theatre in The City, has a mainstream feel, in a good way.

It’s funny, with a sitcom-like setup: New moms Fran (Eliza Gibson) and Con (Desiree Rogers) haven’t had sex since Fran gave birth to their 3-year-old son. The antsy and angst-filled Con is determined to end the dry spell on the trip, to Fran’s resistance.

Their old friend Prin (Elaine Jennings), known for her aversion to commitment, has brought along her significantly younger lover Terri (Jensen Power), with whom she, unusually, has long-term plans and a big-deal birthday present. The two can’t keep their hands off each other.

Overseeing the events is the resort caretaker Joni (AJ Davenport), a blind soothsayer who reads keys and offers sage, deadpan premonitions.

Kathryn L. Wood directs the ensemble with glee. The foursome really acts like old (and new) friends reconnecting on a vacation, but also at crossroads. Rogers, as Con, gets the most fun role, alternating between sexy strutting and futile frustration, and outright anger, before resorting to pleasing herself in the pool.

Gibson’s not altogether unsympathetic Fran is believably tired; she also manages to survive an assault by the bold, inebriated Prin, who, after a few too many margaritas and in-depth discussion about breast milk, goes after her bosoms.

Power, as Terri, is appealing as the group’s youngest member, who nicely finds her place among the older women, even though she feels alone in the world, having been adopted.

Without giving away a surprising ending, the jocularity of “Oedipus’” opening scenes gives way to an intense mood as Terri’s birthday festivities don’t go the way the women plan.

Unlike it began, the seemingly light show ends with high drama, illuminating The Five Lesbian Brothers’ interesting take on giving elements of Greek myth a contemporary spin in the 21st century.

REVIEW
Oedipus at Palm Springs
Presented by Theatre Rhinoceros
Where: Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. July 17-20 and July 22, 3 and 8 p.m. July 21
Tickets: $15 to $45
Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com

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