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Solo performer and Marsh regular Marga Gomez has the most exquisitely comical way of presenting her (lovelorn and vulnerable) cast of characters in “Lovebirds,” her 10th solo show, now in its world premiere at the Marsh.
Although this one is not autobiographical, among those characters is the lesbian Latina we simply can’t do without: Gomez herself, looking for love in all the wrong places, as usual.
In “Lovebirds,” a tight, carefully crafted piece about a group of eccentrics in the quest for love, the narrator is Polaroid Phillie.
She is an anachronism, a chatty, husky-voiced New York photographer of a certain age who hangs out on the streets and in the gay bars of Greenwich Village, snapping photos with her trusty Polaroid for $10 a pop. (Digital cameras, she believes, are a passing fad.)
Occasionally Phillie retrieves an old Polaroid from one of the shoeboxes in impossibly high stacks all over the stage (set design by Vola Ruben), which prompts her to reminisce about the people she photographed in the neighborhood back in the 1970s, especially in a “gay ladies’ discotheque.”
Gomez inhabits the various characters effortlessly, taking on their distinctive voices, accents and body language.
There’s self-conscious women’s studies major Barbara Ramirez, who has recently, and proudly, turned lesbian and renamed herself Dahlia.
There’s Barbara’s would-be and besotted suitor, the tough, swaggering, deep-voiced butch Turkey.
There’s Barbara’s father, Orestes, a jovial charmer who’s infatuated with the musically challenged singer whom he hired to perform at his Spanish restaurant.
There’s the singer’s terminally groggy husband, a professor who claims he needs no more than 45 minutes of sleep per day and considers himself part of the “sleepless elite.”
There’s Barbara’s adored feminist teacher, Aurora Flashmoon, a strident New Age control freak whose book, “Uterus — You Tear Us!” is Barbara’s bible.
We’re all the same, affirms philosophical Phillie: desperate, lonely and scared.
A long dream sequence at the core of the 70-minute piece — the sleep-deprived professor’s dream, in fact — is especially hilarious, featuring Aurora Flashmoon in a silvery mask doing an interpretative dance.
Directed by David Schweizer to capture every funny, whimsical and poignant moment and to showcase Gomez’s prodigious talents, “Lovebirds” is that rare show that’s so enchanting that it actually feels too short.
Where: Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; closes March 15
Tickets: $15 to $35
Contact: (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org
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