“Forgive me father for I have sinned. I spent three decades lying to myself about the fact that I am gay.”
Sure there was a lot of ha-ha-ha to be had-had-had. But in truth, what is absolutely surface at the beginning of this darkly comical, autobiographical narrative, appearing as a guest production at the Santa Monica Playhouse, is a thoroughly brutal brand of repression and borderline abuse against a totally innocent teenager struggling for identity. For many of us, her ‘treatment’ wouldn’t stand today.
In the name of all that is supposed to be right in this world, after years of being attracted to other girls and wanting to be the knight in shining armor who rescues them, Fiona Goodwin, under the supervision of her well-meaning pastor, undergoes a religious exorcism to release the demons causing her latent homosexuality. It’s a hysterical affair really, where Fiona actually gives her inquisitors her best movie-channeled, demonic encouragement throughout the several days long ordeal. (Days!!!! I kept asking myself, “Where the heck are her parents?!”) In the end she fails miserably. And according to her pastor has invited in even more demons than were there before.
With that guilt, Goodwin escapes to her next outlet at an overseas university program, landing in uncomfortable attraction with her female roommate. When that abruptly falls apart she runs to the mountains of Italy to train as a nun. But as fate and inner voice would have it, is compelled to leave for the world again. She becomes a school teacher. She wanders with a traveling theater company as the Devil (appropriate right?), she devoutly commits herself to relationships with men including living with a very Christian chap in a sexless non-marital union. (It didn’t last. He was a dreadful, penny-pincher.) She even makes the ultimate sacrifice by giving up her over 40 virginity in disastrous sex with a sweaty man who’s transported her to a virtual paradise. But no dice.
Adventures in escapism isn’t working. Goodwin just can’t seem to will or force or deny herself into not liking women. And of course, when she finally does give in, that doesn’t go so well either.
It takes her a lifetime to come to the conclusion that, hell!, she is who she is. Because regardless of the serial dates and relationships with unavailable women, internal conflicts, her religion, family and country urging her to be straight, a stiff upper lip and all that, she’ll nevertheless, always be… A Very British Lesbian.
Written by and Starring Fiona Goodwin.
Directed by the internationally acclaimed Wendy Hammers (John Ciccolini’s 2013 LA Comedy Festival Winner, Frank Sinatra Screwed Up My Life; Stephanie Blum’s When I Cough I Wet Myself; The Sopranos), A Very British Lesbian is a completely nonchalant, eye-opening, lumber with lot’s of spectacularly laughable calls for ‘line’ by Goodwin who seems to often be trying not to remember the details of her encounters. And her journey isn’t over yet….
Amusing as it is affecting, Fiona Goodwin’s, A Very British Lesbian is also inspiring and cathartic.
Photo (above): Fiona Goodwin