Theater Review: LAST SUMMER AT BLUEFISH COVE (The Bent in Palm Springs)

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by Jason Mannino on November 3, 2023

in Theater-Palm Springs (Coachella Valley),Theater-Regional


The Bent in association with Palm Springs Cultural Center recently launched its second season on the heels of its successful inaugural season that began less than one year ago. The Bent’s second offering of its second season is a very short run coinciding with Pride Weekend in Palm Springs. Now on through Sunday November 5 at Camelot Theatre is a beautiful and heart-wrenching production of the seminal lesbian play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove by Jane Chambers.

The play was first produced Off-Broadway in 1980 by The Glines, followed by a two-year run at The Fountain Theater in Los Angeles. It transformed theater for Lesbians depicting normal relationships between women at a time when it was unsafe to even publicly walk hand-in-hand. The play follows a close-knit group of lesbian friends (and lovers) who take refuge from the city each summer to live and love freely. When the recently divorced (and straight) Eva (Christine Tringalie Nunes), wanders unknowingly into their circle, she sends the women of the cove reeling. She proceeds to have the love affair of her life as she succumbs quickly to the guarded, cigarette-smoking, only unattached lesbian at the cove, Lil (Yo Younger). We soon learn that Lil is enjoying what everyone other than Eva knows: this will be her last summer as her terminal cancer rears its ugly head.

Christine Tringalie Nunes, Yo Younger

As Lil, Younger courageously mines the character’s joy and pain delivering a powerhouse performance. She is well paired with Nunes in the role of Eva, who transforms from a carefree housewife into Lil’s hyper-sexual lover. Though the play is quite funny, these two really shine in the more tragic moments.

Valerie McClure, Dana Adkins

Other standouts among this fine ensemble include Valerie McClure, who, performing in her first stage role, gives an authentic, heartfelt performance as she navigates the loss of her best friend, Lil. Alana Fayth offers a comedic, wholehearted portrayal as the gold-digging youngster in the group being kept by one of the richer women among them.

Lin Phillipi, Alana Fayth

Rebecca McWilliams expertly directs a cast that includes some of Coachella Valley’s finest actresses who all deserved to be mentioned. The others include Dana Adkins, Deborah Harmon, Norma Marcus, and Lin Phillipi. Chambers’ finely defined characters are lovingly interpreted by this stellar ensemble as they gracefully navigate between joyful comedy, tragedy, and personal transformation.

Deborah Harmon, Norma Marcus, Yo Younger,
Valerie McClure, Dana Adkins, Christine Tringalie Nunes

Don McCormick’s set does a fine job effortlessly transporting us to summer days at this beach resort.

Over the past year The Bent has been pursuing its mission to shine a light on humanity through theater to create a deeper understanding of our common struggles, triumphs, joys and love within the LGBTQ+ community. In the same amount of time a record 520+ anti-queer bills have been introduced in state legislatures across our country. This renders producing high-quality productions of plays, like Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, more pertinent than ever.  (full disclosure: I acted in The Bent’s first production this season).

Deborah Harmon, Norma Marcus

photos by Wilkinson courtesy of The Bent

Last Summer at Bluefish Cove
The Bent Theatre
in association with The Palm Springs Cultural Center
Camelot Theatres, 2300 East Baristo Road in Palm Springs
remaining performances Fri at 7; Sat at 2 & 7
ends on November 4, 2023
for tickets, visit The Bent or Eventbrite

(Editor’s Note: Full disclosure — writer Jason Mannino appeared in The Bent’s first production this season, Gross Indecency).

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