Review: Marga Gomez Solos In ‘Spanking Machine’ At The Marsh (****)

Marga Gomez performs “The Spanking Machine” at The Marsh. Photo Credit: Christian Figueroa

by Charles Kruger

Reviewed by a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.

Closes This Weekend! Just Two More Performances!

In Marga Gomez’s memoir monologue, it seems that when it comes to life, we all spank and get spanked. Sometimes it’s on purpose, sometimes it’s by accident, sometimes it’s a mystery, and sometimes a mistake. But spanked we will be. Life is a spanking machine.

Her story begins with reflections on being stalked on social media by a phantom of her past: a boy, the flamboyant and rebellious Scotty, who was her best childhood friend in Catholic School, where, together, they feared the nuns’ literal “spanking machine” (at least, they thought it was real) and shared their first kiss. He comes out to her as a gay man (hardly a surprise), and she is intrigued.

Gradually, we learn that she she has wondered about this friend for many years, and she agrees to pay a vist—fantacizing that he will be one of those rich Miami Cuban gay men who will regale her with parties and pleasure. They were never out to one another as youngsters, and she is excited to make up for missed opportunities.

What she finds, however, is a man on the cusp of old age, suffering with muscular dystrophy, living in a gated community with his pets and his wife (huh?) and his mother-in-law. Discos are out of the question.

As the monolog deepens, Gomez explores what might have been if the two young gay people could have supported one another, what they lost, and what they still offer each other.  Her characterization of Scotty is so vivid, that you’ll swear at times there must be more than one actor on stage.

As the memories flow, the material gets funnier and funnier, yet sadder, too, as Gomez digs deep. She explores, with humor and compassion, the ways in which these two very different people have survived lifetimes of oppression—the spanking machine.

A polished actress and comedian, Gomez’s timing is perfection, and an hour flies by as she peoples the stage with a bouquet of characters: not just Marga and Scotty, but the Irish nuns of their childhood, the habitues and staff of a restaurant on Calle Ocho, the most famous boulevard of Miami’s Little Havana, and—in a tour de force denoument—Marga’s partner for a memorably disappointing one night stand.

It is always a pleasure to watch a Marga Gomez performance. With “Spanking Machine,” she delivers!

“Spanking Machine” will play for two more performances, October 22nd and 23rd. For ticket information, click here.

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Rating: **** (For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here.)
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“The Spanking Machine” written and performed by Marga Gomez. Developed in collaboration with Arian Alea. Produced by The Marsh. Lighting Designer/Operator: Alexa Almira.

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