The Five Lesbian Brothers are a famous theatrical collective of writer/ actor gender activists who have vowed to mock their way to freedom—and place fully embodied lesbian desire on stage—over the past two decades in New York. In their 1997 satire, Brides of the Moon, they saw the future.
I hope you're sitting down. Here's looking at the closing numbers: Disney owns the world by the year 2069. Earth is now called IASWAA, Inc., and is a single, planetary, corporate entity whose acronym—and national anthem—is that perky (and, ultimately, maddening) little ditty one cannot escape while trapped on a certain Orlando theme park ride.
Perhaps as an unintended result, extended adolescence, which gave our culture the boomerang kids of the present generation, now lingers into the upper 30s. Individuals and whole families still lead lives of quiet desperation, work at unrewarding jobs, and then return home to self-medicate with stronger than ever—but still socially-approved—anodynes: Popular TV programs like the game show Blameshifters, brought to you by the makers of Bitch! Cigarettes (motto: "You've come a long way, Bitch!"), a tranquilizer dart in a can called Sed-a-cola, and Hamburgoo, "the paste that tastes just like meat!"
To adjust to the difficulties of modern times, women now listen to consciousness-lowering tapes, as opposed to the consciousness-raising efforts of previous decades. News coverage has continued its descent into trivia. And since Viagra apparently wasn't sufficient, companies now place SDI's—sex drive implants—into the heads of women they need to be sexually active.
But that last endeavor might actually not work out quite the way the boys in marketing planned. Not for a group of women whose interplanetary ride to gratify—and presumably, colonize—a deep-space vacation world has just been knocked off course ... by an errant 1997 Winnebago.
In Brides such wicked-sharp social satire is married, so to speak, with an equally acute (and, at times, profane) critique, not only of traditional gender roles, but also the "progressive"—and equally stultifying—updates of the previous decade. In equal parts a send up of interplanetary potboilers and domestic dramas, its doomed grace notes evoking, say, Marguerite Duras aren't remotely supposed to even out the hardly gratuitous lesbian sex sequences.
In this Common Ground Theater production, the broad satire is only sometimes balanced by the carefully observed, legitimate emotions that the Brothers also claim as their trademark. Laurie Wolf's rich history in mime serves her well in the comic role of Dai Dai, a monkey brought aboard for experiments—a role that's suddenly devastating when her character reveals her true feelings in a late sign language scene. Even with its dose of schmaltz, Rachel Klem's Gabrielle and Wolf, in a second role as Anita, effectively get at the poignancy of an old college friendship, separated by fate, corporate misbehavior and time.
Not so effective? The mainly hypothetical chemistry between Tara Stone's Carmen, an earthbound 30-something adolescent and Klem's second character, an older, jilted astronaut named Lynn. And though this may largely be a hangover from earlier roles with more gravitas, I had an easier time seeing Lormarev Jones as besieged parent Ken Powers than the ever-panicky civilian astronaut—and girly-girl—Bridget. In their midst, Page Purgar surfed an endless series of awkward moments as Commander Holway, in a show whose cheap jokes, overt sexuality and sharp sensibilities liberate a crew—and a family—from the stasis that had trapped both. We all should be so lucky.