Categories: Arts Theater

Marga Gomez’s lovable ‘Latin Standards’

To put comedian-performer Marga Gomez’s wonderful new autobiographical solo, “Latin Standards,” into context: The local solo theater scene is booming. In addition to The Marsh, the longtime, invaluable purveyor of solo theater, PlayGround’s solo festival is currently running, as is, in Mountain View, Hershey Felder’s one-man “Our Great Tchaikovsky” at TheatreWorks. And Louis Anderson’s solo “Dear Dad” just closed at American Conservatory Theater.

Like “Dear Dad,” Gomez’s play is a tribute to her late father: the charming, and flawed, Cuban musician with the phony French stage name: Willie Chevalier.

Elegantly structured and cleverly staged, it’s both touching and funny.

In a gold lamé jacket, a short haircut and an endearingly gap-toothed grin that’s somehow both sheepish and conspiratorial, Gomez simply owns the stage, which happens to be a brand new one: Brava’s just-opened intimate cabaret space next door to its grand theater in the Mission District.

Deftly weaving multiple themes together — including the gentrification of the neighborhood, the need for the Latinx community to stick together and, well, coffee — Gomez re-creates scenes from her childhood with her father, and juxtaposes them with descriptions of her own recent few years producing a comedy show at the Latino drag club Esta Noche in the Mission.

Imagined as a “final farewell concert,” complete with fake microphone, the tiny stage glitzed up with glittery palm trees, she connects the strands by translating into English the lyrics of the songs her father wrote, as we simultaneously listen to them on the sound system, sung by various Latin groups. It’s a smart theatrical device.

Under David Schweizer’s excellent direction, Gomez embodies not just Willie, but also her flashy Puerto Rican mother, the sleazy owner of Esta Noche and her own insipid ex-girlfriend, the pseudonymous Gwyneth, imparting fine points of gesture, voice and expression that bring each individual to vibrant life.

Gomez has re-created her parents in some of her many earlier, equally hilarious, pieces.

But this one illuminates her relationship with her father — whose show-biz career inspired her own — in new ways. She sees now, with the greatest generosity, how uncannily alike are father and daughter.

And in that specificity of detail, and in that clarity, “Latin Standards” becomes universal.

That is, Gomez’s gift is such that even if you’re not a Latina lesbian comedian from New York with a flamboyant and somewhat irresponsible Dad, you’re likely to find yourself thinking of your own father — and forgiving him his deficiencies.

Latin Standards
Presented by Brava! For Women in the Arts
Where: Brava Cabaret, 2781 24th St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays, closes Jan. 28
Tickets: $25 to $30

Jean Schiffman
Published by
Jean Schiffman

Recent Posts

If you want to address climate change, clean up the air

Like climate change itself, recent environmental news from throughout the country can feel overwhelming and scary. As leaders from around…

1 min ago

Transportation justice requires housing justice, and vice versa

Why should transportation advocates support ballot measures put forth by housing activists? And why should housing activists defend a gas…

2 mins ago

Report finds community benefit districts linked to displacement, harassment

An advocacy group is calling on The City to block business improvement districts from using tax dollars to address quality…

2 mins ago

Homes not cars on Divisadero

People in the Divisadero neighborhood are trying to stop new housing by calling for fees (taxes) which would make projects…

2 mins ago

Sept. 19-20: Greta Van Fleet, Dawn Wall, Lessons from China, Oktoberfest, Peter Phillips, P.J. O’Rourke, Liz Phair, Sondheim Tonight!, Prida Project, Miguel, Eagles, J. Balvin, Boz Scaggs

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19 Greta Van Fleet: The young Kiszka brothers (Jake, Josh and Sam) and their friend drummer Danny Wagner,…

1 hour ago

Bonta Hill: 49ers are playing the long game

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked six times on Sunday, giving him nine for the season. He’s also…

1 hour ago