‘Lesbian Speed Date From Hell!’ Teaches Dating Etiquette
You Thought Ghosting Was the Worst Thing to Happen to You?
Lesbian Speed Date From Hell! is a cautionary tale. Don’t ghost lesbians, girls! At least don’t piss off Kate Hammer.
“Well, this has got to be the most awkward date ever,” said Ashley, played by Hammer, as her date wakes up tied to a chair.
While it sounds like a kinky turn of events, Jackie, played by Katharine King So, was going to be tortured for the next hour at the hands of Ashley.
Inspiration struck Christina Saliba when she saw open submissions for Festival de la Bête Noire, a theatre festival with a horror penchant. Lesbian Speed Date’s first run happened at that festival last February.
The play, which boasts a majority queer and diverse cast and crew, was produced again at Mainline theatre as part of Off Just for Laughs. They have also been commissioned by the Montreal Pride Festival this summer.
“Authentic representation is critical,” said Saliba, Lesbian Speed Date co-writer and producer. “It was essential for me to find a cast that was queer or identified on the queer spectrum.”
At the start of the play, a reluctant Jackie decided to attend a lesbian speed dating event, coaxed by her neighbour and friend who organizes them. A few underwhelming dates present Jackie as a self-centred yet lovable player, uninterested or turned off by most of the people she meets.
Enter, Ashley—appearing seemingly out of thin air, sitting poised in a haze of perfume and bad intentions.
The LSD event was not Ashley and Jackie’s first encounter. It was later revealed that they have had a brief fling which ended in Jackie leaving Ashley hanging—in other words, ghosting her.
“Authentic representation is critical” — Christina Saliba
Coming from the film world, Lesbian Speed Date From Hell! is Saliba’s first foray into theatre. She produced the piece, and co-wrote it alongside Lorna Kidjo and Adam Kolodny.
“I know one of the ways to connect is through artistic expression,” Saliba said. “I wanted to create something that was very queer centric and that would allow me to work with queer folks.”
Identifying as a lesbian, Saliba felt isolated from the queer community—the project allowed her to connect. A lover of horror comedy, she also wanted to bring the genre to the stage. Saliba added that she wanted to create a piece in which she could see herself.
“Comedy is a great blend with horror,” said Saliba. “There is a lot of intensity with the horror, but the comedy kind of takes you out of it, gives you a little breather.”
Saliba explained that horror is boundary pushing—testing the audience’s limits “in a safe and controlled environment.”
In Lesbian Speed Date, comedy and horror came hand in hand. “This is the hottest date I’ve had in awhile,” said Ashley, burning Jackie with boiling water meant for tea.
Jackie’s screams contributed to the suspension of disbelief, and were surprisingly terrifying. Ashley’s ridiculous and disproportionate evil was funny until she took it took far and did something drastic, like cutting off Jackie’s finger.
“The blood squirting was really difficult,” said Saliba. “A lot of the effects are difficult to include, because everyone is paying very close attention to what’s happening on stage, and there is no room for error. If someone sees that little squirt bottle it takes away the magic.”
Playing that terrifying and silly character is a roller coaster Hammer enjoys. “I think the most fun thing is that [Ashley] is built so that she’s over here and over there, and ridiculous and serious, and I’ve never had a character that bounces so quickly.”
King So doesn’t often get the opportunity to play a queer character, she said. She added that she was excited to play comedy, because in theatre she is usually called to play sad, vulnerable women.
Saliba explained that Lesbian Speed Date is a queer show empowering queer women on stage. The play pokes fun at stereotypes and tropes in the gay community.
“There aren’t a lot of spaces for queer women,” said King So. “To create those spaces even if they’re temporary, whether they’re once a month, or a show, it’s seems fun and everything and then you look at how many there are but they are few and far between.”
The show also makes fun of toxic masculinity with the character of Kyle, the “local male lesbian” who meets a fatal end.
“When you have theatre made by women, it’s inherently political,” said Hammer.
For director Mariah Inger, Lesbian Speed Date is “silly and fun and light, but yet, horrific and gross and disturbing.”
“How many times do you get to go see theatre in a year that does that?”