Trivia time: what Golden Girls character still believes in Santa? You don’t need multiple-choice answers to know it’s gotta be sweet dumb Rose Nylund. In Hell in a Handbag’s latest installment in its long-running series, The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Rose (Ed Jones, always right on the money) faces a crisis of belief, and also must confront her fearsome Aunt Inga (Steve Kimbrough), the Cheese Empress of St. Olaf. Meanwhile, Sophia (Ryan Oates) snipes, Dorothy (Hell in a Handbag’s artistic director David Cerda, who also wrote the show) delivers withering glances, and Blanche (Grant Drager) puts the moves on a jolly old elf or two—including a lascivious take on “Santa Baby” where she goes toe-to-toe (and other body parts) with her romantic rival.
On opening night, some problems with the lightboard gave host Lori Lee (who also plays sidekick Flo) a chance for more audience interaction than just the usual trivia contest, and she delivered with witty aplomb. If you’ve seen past versions of this show, you’ll know what to expect: friendly (if sometimes filthy) ripostes, ridiculous plot twists (including a segment channeling It’s a Wonderful Life), and over-the-top physical comedy (nimbly staged by director/choreographer Stevie Love). It’s sometimes sloppy and often obvious—but at its heart, the show celebrates what it means to make a family of affinity at the holidays, and that’s worth believing in, at any age. v