Fans of The Golden Girls, the popular 1980s sitcom about four senior citizens—three widows and a divorcee—sharing a home in Miami, will likely enjoy this campy spoof from Hell in a Handbag Productions. Written by Handbag’s artistic director, David Cerda, and directed by Jon Martinez, the show takes the original series’ main strength—the perfectly balanced personalities of its four affectionately quarrelsome leads—and ups the source material’s already plentiful queer-appeal. Housemates Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia—the roles played on TV by Rue McClanahan, Betty White, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty, respectively—are performed here by men in drag. Michael Rashid as strong, sarcastic Dorothy; Adrian Hadlock as Dorothy’s often inappropriate 83-year-old mother, Sophia; Grant Drager as sultry, oversexed southern belle Blanche; and especially Ed Jones as sugary, naive Rose from Saint Olaf, Minnesota, deftly re-create the sharply timed rhythms of the insult-packed banter among the “girls.” Script writer Cerda—who also plays Dorothy in late-night performances—hammers home the sexual subtext of the jokes in this ribald, salty entertainment.
In the first segment, the women place risque personals ads in their local supermarket’s in-house shopper newspaper, resulting in Rose apparently hooking up with a lesbian girlfriend; meanwhile, masculine Dorothy inadvertently introduces the concept of nonbinary pronouns to the patrons of a feminist cafe. In the second half, set at the Miami Senior Center’s Sadie Hawkins dance, Dorothy nearly gets engaged to an ex-con suspected of murdering his wife, while inebriated Sophia faces off with her archrival Sylvia, played deliciously by Danne W. Taylor.
“Commercial breaks” in the form of an audience- participation quiz game led by cabaret comic Maureen SanDiego add to the fun, as does the inevitable sing-along rendition of The Golden Girls theme song, “Thank You for Being a Friend.” v