On love and polaroids: Gomez’ solo show moves to The Marsh in Berkeley

Polaroid Phillie (Marga Gomez) captures the daily love of many in Gomez' solo show "Lovebirds," playing weekends at the Marsh in Berkeley (Marga Gomez photo)
Polaroid Phillie (Marga Gomez) captures the daily love of many in Gomez’ solo show “Lovebirds,” playing weekends at the Marsh in Berkeley (Marga Gomez photo)

Ask solo performer and comedienne Marga Gomez about her love life, and she’ll pull no punches. At present, Gomez is three years out of her last relationship, which she says is the longest she has been without someone. But for her, she remains downright philosophical about where she is in her love life, and she isn’t missing out on anything.

“I think one of greatest things I can do with people is a nice, strong flirt,” said Gomez. “I still find love, I still flirt. I flirt with women, with men, with anyone who is of legal age and anyone who is still alive.”

A love that Gomez has never been without is her love of the stage, the love of an audience. She has had a long and storied career with comedy, while her one-woman shows have been performing in the Bay Area and beyond since 1991. Her tenth solo show, entitled “Lovebirds” opens back up in Berkeley at The Marsh after running for six months at the same company’s San Francisco venue. Directed by David Schweizer, “Lovebirds” has enjoyed a great amount of success, finding its premiere in 2013 at the La Mama Theatre in New York City before it headed out to the Santa Cruz Fringe Festival.

Gomez’ play is set in the sexy 1970’s in New York City. A colorful band of characters move through the space looking for love, including maître d’ Orestes, his daughter, and a singer. The charming Polaroid Phillie, who bounces around to all the passionate hot spots such as gay bars and Spanish restaurants, documents all of these folks.

“It has got to be the most romantic era, pre-AIDS, lots of drugs and lots of polyester,” said Gomez. “It was all about romance and disco music and this show celebrates that.”

The other thing the show celebrates is the concept of love, and what love means. Love is clearly something that fascinates Gomez, and she does not hesitate to share her life experiences with those who walk into her theatrical world.

“I’ve learned that love is really an individual quality – it’s not like you meet somebody and then there’s love,” said Gomez. “If you just have to bring love to someone else who’s bringing love, you can double down on love. But if you don’t have it to begin with, you’re not going to get it with another person.

“If you love a person, it’s not like you can lose that in a divorce settlement. They can take your house but they can’t take your love.”

So much of Gomez’ construction of “Lovebirds” is based on simply observing those around her. Many of her characters are composites of people she has observed and jotted down in notebooks for the past 10, 20 years. She makes it clear that these are not biographical or autobiographical characters.

“These things didn’t necessarily happen to me, but inspired by the people I saw,” said Gomez. “The nice thing is that when a show is not autobiographical, you don’t have to be limited by the truth, you can just expand and blow it up.”

In Gomez’ writing career, she has explored a myriad of topics, including her relationship with her show business parents, homophobia and her experiences in the world as a gay woman. But where this show is a bit different is that it’s inspired by something very painful and personal to her.

“You can’t get any more basic than the heart and what the heart wants,” said Gomez. “I was going through a breakup and was really hurting, but one of the great things we can do as writers is just to escape and create a world that is like a dream world. That’s what ‘Lovebirds’ is.”

For now, Gomez is content to continue living her life and live in the moment. And while she admits that many components of coupled life are wonderful, there are other aspects that are somewhat frightening.

“It’s dependency that ruins love in a relationship, and personally, once I lost the dependency on this person, I was pretty free,” said Gomez. “I think that yeah, it’s sometimes lonely not to have that person to do all those couple things, but then I think it can be worse. You can be in a relationship and lonely, and that’s the worst.

“I’m doing pretty good.”


The Marsh Berkeley presents “Lovebirds”
Written and performed by Marga Gomez
Directed by David Schweizer
Sept. 19th – Oct. 18th
Berkeley Theater Stage
2120 Alston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
Tickets range from $20 – $100
For tickets, call 415-282-3055 or visit www.themarsh.org
On the web: www.margagomez.com

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