When my friend Kitty and I used to live together I would often return home in the late afternoon following grad school classes to find him sitting on the couch, bong close by, watching The Golden Girls and laughing himself silly. I never really got into The Golden Girls, though after seeing a performance last night of two classic episodes by Heklina, Cookie Dough, Matthew Martin, and Pollo DelMar (with a special guest appearance by Mike Finn channeling Keanu Reeves portraying a lesbian) I suddenly understood what Kitty had realized long ago: that The Golden Girls really are a bunch of drag queens. Once you have that figured out, everything makes perfect sense.
The show could be described as "parlor theater" since it was performed in the parlor of a vintage Victorian on Grove Street right off Fillmore. This led to a bit of unintended comedy during the performance of the second episode, when, in the dark between scenes, Blanche sat down in a chair, the back legs slipped off the edge of the makeshift stage, and an elbow went through a window. It took three rounds of laughter and Blanche's comment of "I thought it was getting a little hot in here," before some semblance of order was restored, and the broken window opened up some opportunities for comedic improvisation through the rest of the of the performance.
The depictions of all the girls was spot on, but when Heklina came out as Dorothy everyone broke into laughter over how much she really looked like Bea Arthur, right down to the nose. Matthew Martin as Blanche was my favorite, however, capturing perfectly Rue McLanahan's southern tart. It's hard to go wrong when you're working from the original scripts, but the extra camp twist that everyone put into their performances kept the audience roaring through the full hour (the Sex on the Miami Beaches being sold out by the ticket booth certainly helped as well).
All the 8PM shows are sold out, but if you show up early (and I mean early - folks were lined up at 7 for the 8PM show) you can get on the standby list, and there's at least a chance you'll be able to get in. There are also 10PM shows, and after the success of this series I wouldn't be suprised if the girls make their way back to SF for encore performances.