Front Row Reviews

Swimming With Lesbians

“Swimming With Lesbians” Embarks on a Romantic Voyage

by Patricia L. Morin

Marga Gomez’s comedic 14th solo show, “Swimming With Lesbians,” at The Marsh, launches us on a wild ride aboard the Celesbian, the lesbian cruise ship headed to the Isle of Lesbo. Using her experience as a lesbian cruise-ship entertainer, she introduces a potpourri of unique personalities. Shedding light on new relationships and sexual fantasies, she infuses her dynamic personality into each character. 

If you have ever been on cruise, with its bingo games, lavish buffets, fun pool games—most of the time, and night-time entertainment including dancing, you will especially connect to the cruise-ship humor. You may find yourself laughing a bit louder than expected.

Gomez introduces guests through the memoir of effervescent, high-brow Isabelle, resting from a lacrosse accident, and new to cruise life. As Isabelle narrates, David Hawkins’ captivating 50’s women cartoon caricatures project onto the back wall, enriching the bare set. With the hope of her first lesbian experience, Isabelle lusts after the tough-talking Captain Debbie, who sports a southern drawl.

Marga Gomez (photo: Jim McCambridge)

Prue Perez, “meek” bingo-caller, worries about lacking “dyke energy” desired by lesbians and hides from her childhood tormentor Arlene. Arlene pulled her pigtails, shaking her head from right to left, while singing “Where is Love” from the movie “Oliver.” To add to this tension, Prue constantly fears Captain Debbie’s dismissal.

Underlying the hysterical plot, Gomez’s attempt at reconciliation with her past tormentor while intertwining a lighthearted frolicking portrayal of new relationships. Yet, bullying is a hurtful act, especially the harshness of those experiences for the LGBQIA community. Attacks continue today on the LGBQIA community, personally and politically. Gomez, the consummate talent for comedic introspection, transforms the personal experience into a humorously brilliant, noteworthy lesson.

The most hilarious scenes unfold on the “Lezzo” deck, where singles mingle. The stand out personalities with Prue, Captain Debbie and Isabelle personalities are sardonic astrologer, Aurora, who interjects outrageous prophecies, while heavy drinkers, Babs and Jan, enjoy a “hands on” meet and greet in a closet-size elevator. A few times, when several characters meet, the transitions between characters feels a bit too rapid causing confusion about who is speaking.

The intricate sounds by Marga Gomez, and lighting by Robert Perez encompass weather changes, muffled crowd voices, ship noises, and music that magically transforms the minimalist stage into the bustling life aboard a cruise ship.

Gomez directs and choreographs her own one person show with a sharp eye on the audience’s reactions. She captivates with her diverse skills as she pulls in the audience to participate. One can feel the excitement of cheering for the Cozzies, clapping along to the beat of an improvised song, or being emersed in Gomez’s rythemicly coordinated, hip-shifting, hands-floating, Macarena.  

Gomez’s realness, a raw natural easy-going energy, feels very home down in whatever character she portrays.

“Swimming With Lesbians,” is fun-filled, action packed, with unexpected laugh out-loud scenes everyone will enjoy.  All aboard at The Marsh!

“Swimming With Lesbians” written and directed by Margo Gomez, at The Marsh, Berkeley, CA to January 28, 2024

Cast: Margo Gomez

Creative Team: Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe, Jackie Marchand, Sarah Toby Moore, Monica Palacios, David Schweizer

Top photo by Carmen Veronica