Ms. Gomez charmingly plays herself as well as the narrator Dashiell Hammett. For this characterization, she intones in a grand voice statements such as “Exterior The mission San Francisco 1990. Cut to: Present Day—Downtown Manhattan. Cut to.…” these screenplay directions serve to set the scene on the stage that is bare except for a chair. It’s a device that grows wearying very quickly and goes on throughout.
Much of the material is her analyzing and reenacting the plots of such celluloid closet classics as The Children’s Hour, The Killing of Sister George, and The Fox. Contemporary films that get this treatment include Basic Instinct, Notes On a Scandal, The Hunger, Bound, Showgirls, and there’s the incest bit from Chinatown thrown in as well. She does homages to and impressions of Sandy Dennis, Sharon Stone, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench that are insightful and amusing.
This is all narratively connected by Gomez going on a journey through a fantastical lesbian portal where these fictional characters converge. Her young gay nephew of whom she impersonates joins her on this odyssey.
In some cases, she revisits a few of the previously performed parodies at later points. In addition to the fantasy framework, there are also conventional stand up comedy sequences. Cumulatively the effects of these elements don’t significantly or memorably coalesce. Gomez often succeeds at comedy but the striven for dramatic qualities are not very effective.
The high point of Gomez’s film career as an actress would appear to be Sphere, a 1998 Sci-Fi flop, and she gets a lot mileage out of that and her interactions with co-star Queen Latifah. As a comedian, she does get off some choice zingers such as “I’m so celibate my legs have been together longer than Aerosmith,” “Now GLADD gives awards to straight celebrities,” and “The Confederate flag had gone down more than I have.” At some points the action of the show actually takes place at its venue, Dixon Place.
Director David Schweizer has physically shaped the material and the performance into a lively production. Rob Larivere’s lighting design and Sharon L. Boggs’ sound design are both very well executed and add a theatrical dimension.
For ardent fans and admirers of Marga Gomez, POUND will be a delightfully entertaining and raucous showcase for her talents. Others could find it convoluted and too long.
POUND (Fridays and Saturdays through July 25, 2015)
The 24th Annual Hot! Festival
Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit http://www.dixonplace.org
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission