Forever Young

17. October, 2011 Theater No comments

“According to Wikipedia, Marga Gomez is known for her honesty,” Marga Gomez says in Not Getting Any Younger, her new solo show at the Marsh’s upstairs studio stage. She notes that the website singles her out as one of the first out gay comedians in the country; “I tried to pass for straight, but what’s the point of lying is nobody believes you?” The one thing she lies about, she says, is her age.

Marga Gomez in Not Getting Any Younger. Photo by David Wilson.

Gomez’s show is a good companion piece to Geezer, Geoff Hoyle’s show about aging that had played to sold-out houses downstairs at the Marsh since March and closed the same weekend hers opened. (Then Hoyle had to turn his attention to the new Teatro ZinZanni show he’s starring in, its last before the America’s Cup displaces the theater from its longtime waterfront home.) Eerily enough, both solo shows contain lines about exactly how close the performers are to the age a parent was when he or she died.  But while Geezer is all about coming to terms with being older, Not Getting Any is a show about not coming to terms with it. Every time Gomez tries to ’fess up and stop being so coy about her age, something holds her back. And when I say “something” I mean a physical force; it becomes a wresting match with her own reticence as an invisible opponent.

Instead she teases us with it. She talks about witnessing the great Chicago Fire when she was a little girl, never mind that it was 130 years ago. It turns out what she’s talking about is Freedomland, a short-lived amusement park in the Bronx in the early 1960s, themed around American history.  She describes a visit there with her heavily accented Puerto Rican mother (Gomez’s impersonation of her is hilarious). Her mom came there for a Chubby Checker concert, where she competed in a dance contest, pretending to be much younger than she was. “I saw then what being 21 does for a middle-aged woman,” Gomez says.

Originally directed by Ellen Sebastian Chang, there’s a fast and loose quality to Not Getting Any Younger that’s enthralling and kind of thrilling, not to mention laugh-out-loud funny. (Oh damn, I mentioned it.) It isn’t as focused as some of Gomez’s past autobiographical shows about her life and family, and in this case that’s a good thing. There’s a marvelous sense of ease and impish assuredness as she bounces from topic to topic: a crotchety rant about kids being in Starbucks in the middle of the day; a childhood friend’s tendency to play pranks on seniors and Marga’s attempt to make it up to old people everywhere; the devolution of customer service language from “you’re welcome” to “uh-huh.” An aside about all the dance moves you need to go clubbing is a riot.

As written her show is full of tremendously funny lines (“I see a baby and I project ahead 20 years till it’s an adult I’m not gonna like”), but it’s Gomez’s deft, assured delivery that makes the show so hysterical.  In the show’s 85 minutes or so, she completely owns that bare stage, making it a delight to hear whatever Gomez wants to tell us, which depends on who wins that wrestling match.

Not Getting Any Younger
Through February 25
The Marsh
1062 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA

Show #89 of 2011, attended September 15.

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