“Miserable Lesbians” at East to Edinburgh at 59E59 Theaters (Closed July 28, 2013)

July 27, 2013 | Off-Broadway | Tags:
Written and Directed by Sandro Monetti
Music by Michael Daniel
Lyrics by Michael Daniel and Sandro Monetti
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Storm the Prison for Wretched Lesbians! Free the Lezzers from the Jodi Foster Wing! So chants the well-meaning straight Nair-do-well Jean Jackman (Anthony Wemyss) as he rallies the “troops” to free imprisoned lesbians who, twenty years since the start of the French Revolution, still do not have civil rights. Surely the man who helped bring down the oppressive absolute monarchy of King Louis XVI at the infamous barricade can free a few lesbians from the local hoosegow. Does this sound like a parody of “Les Miserables?”

Parodies are meant to be thought-provokingly awful and Sandro Monetti’s new musical “Miserable Lesbians” succeeds in its delicious awfulness as it prepares to move from 59E59’s East to Edinburgh Festival to the veritable Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.

The uber-talented cast of six works hard (despite their self-deprecation) to bring utter shame to the doorstep of the warhorse of a musical and movie it – and the short film of the same name – parodies. Cosette, for example, becomes Courgette Chapman (Katie Amess); Eponine is remodeled Eppynine (Laura-Beth Hill); Javert ripens into Gavrob (Kerstin Alm); Mme. Thenardier becomes Mme. Bonham Carter; and Marius Pontmercy converts to Marius Redmayne (Nadia Wit).

As with all parodies, “Miserable Lesbians” has an undercurrent of seriousness: the message here is that a self-proclaimed boring and awful musical (it is neither boring nor is it awful) can highlight the need for equal rights for the LGBT community and the universality of legal gay marriage despite recent legal advances witnessed in the United States, England, and Wales.

Or just perhaps “Miserable Lesbians” is just a parody of a musical, a movie, and even of itself. Either way, Edinburgh Festival Fringe audiences will have tremendous fun with this well-conceived, well- directed, and well-performed edgy new musical.