Review: THE GOLDEN GIRLS, VOL. 2: THE LOST EPISODES at Hell In A Handbag

Review: THE GOLDEN GIRLS, VOL. 2: THE LOST EPISODES at Hell In A Handbag

Pictured: David Cerda, Adrian Hadlock, Ed Jones and Grant Drager. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

By Elizabeth Ellis

Many of us are spending a considerable amount of time these days in resistance of one kind or another. To balance out this necessary work, and to maintain our sanity in a world that is becoming increasingly loony, we need to engage in self-care. For some of us, self-care is as easy as a pedicure or massage; for others, it’s engaging in restorative practices such as meditation. For even more of us, it’s revisiting a simpler time or friendly faces. If you have even a slight acquaintance with the 1980’s hit sitcom The Golden Girls, then head over to Mary’s Attic in Andersonville to see Hell in a Handbag’s excellent parody of the show, THE GOLDEN GIRLS, VOL. 2: THE LOST EPISODES. TGG is definitely not heavy drama, nor a groundbreaking exploration of challenging social issues. This is a silly and wonderfully funny show that not only is perfect for a hot summer night, but will lighten your heart and make you feel like part of a loving and welcoming community.

Miami, 1987: Three widows and a divorcee of a certain age share a home, and hilarity ensues. Former teacher Dorothy Zbornak (originally Bea Arthur, played by the deliciously acerbic David Cerda, who also wrote the script); the sultry Southern Belle, Blanche Devereaux (originally Rue McClanahan, played to lusty perfection by Grant Drager); daffy Midwesterner, Rose Nylund (originally Betty White, in a tour de force performance by Ed Jones); and Dorothy’s spitfire mother, Sophia (originally Estelle Getty, played to spiteful perfection by Adrian Hadlock) try to live under the same roof without driving each other crazy. The plots in the short episodes run a little thin, but give a lot of opportunities for the performers to expand on familiar characterizations. In the first episode, the girls visit their local adult club, “The Pleasure Dome” (no relation to the one described by Samuel Taylor Coleridge) and are shocked to discover who works there; in the second, the girls angle to be the recipient of a local civic award; and in the third, a man from Rose’s past comes to the house to implicate Rose as the culprit in a long-ago case of celebrity bovinicide. The dynamic hostess for the show, Lori Lee, paused the show several times to engage the audience in TGG trivia contests with small prizes, and the audience was happy to compete.

Director Becca Holloway shows that pacing is essential to successful comedy, and the actors definitely deliver. With such well-known stories and characters, not a lot of exposition is needed, and the entire show exists to serve their considerable talents. The lackluster third episode is the least necessary, made clear by the number of references in the script to its weakness.

Cerda could cut that storyline and possibly expand it to become part of what certainly will be a TGG: Volume 3. Cerda also designed the costumes, which are so spot on that you can tell each character is which before they speak their first line. Roger Wykes’ small but efficient set beautifully evokes a modest Miami home; the golden drapes with green palm trees are a perfect accent.

See this fun show, sing along when the theme song plays, and enjoy some good laughs.

About author

Elizabeth Ellis

Elizabeth is an actor, playwright, musician, and a graduate of De Paul University. She studied theatre and improvisation at the Second City Training Center, the Actors’ Center, and at the Royal National Theatre Studio in London. Elizabeth has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Tympanic Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, Second City's Children's Theatre, Stage Left Theatre, Bailiwick Arts Center, and London's Canal Cafe Theatre. Six of her plays have been chosen as part of the Abbie Hoffman and the Around the Coyote festivals.

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