Room for Cream Season One: The Box Set

Issue 697 : Feb 5–11, 2009

The hit lesbian comic serial Room for Cream is all about thinking inside the box. At the performance I attended, roughly 80 percent of the audience hailed from the sapphic side of the street; and the Dyke Division of Theatre of the Two-Headed Calf, the troupe behind the show, is unafraid to be insular. The series’s multiple writers have their ears to the muff, and the humor in Room for Cream stems mainly from the affectionately satirical employment of lesbian accoutrements like health food, knitting, video art and sex toys.
     The current “box set” edition of the show at La MaMa offers a chance to catch up on the soap opera’s first season—two episodes at a time—before the second begins later this month. To outsiders, the show is a bit of a curiosity. Its guiding aesthetic differs starkly from the spectacularity of such gay-male serials as Burning Habits and I, Claudius. (Broadly speaking, gay men camp it up, while lesbians go camping.) Set in a coffee shop in the Berkshires, Room for Cream cops a low-key, almost diffident attitude, and director Brooke O’Harra gets a special kick out of a kind of awkward amateurism. Some of the actors are sharp, including Jess Barbagallo as a frustrated baby butch and Becca Blackwell as a revved-up diesel; others are giggly or blank. If the overall feeling is collegiate (à la Smith or Sarah Lawrence), it is also endearing. Don’t expect an espresso kick: This is a sweet cappuccino, two-thirds foam, with a few stray cat hairs stuck to the saucer.