Fiona Goodwin spent a majority of her life in the closet. Along the way, she maintained that her stiff upper lip Britishness would, at some point, banish lesbianism from her life. ‘A Very British Lesbian’, running until the 26th of August at Gilded Balloon Teviot, tells the many hilarious and heartfelt stories that Goodwin has accumulated over her decades in the closet.
I became aware of this show because of an article in the Guardian, which in truth spoiled some of the show for me, as I was already ken to ‘the big event’ in Fiona’s life – the exorcism she experienced as a young woman to try to rid herself of homosexual thoughts. But there were plenty of wacky and wonderful stories to cushion this particular tale.
While Goodwin’s stories are quite unbelievably entertaining – joining a convent, sleeping with a woman in the Honduran jungle in a Satan costume, and numerous illicit love affairs with otherwise-taken women – her delivery appeared to me, at some points, a bit boring. While I understand that Goodwin is leaning very much on the deadpan ‘Britishness’ as laid out in the title of her show, it risks falling too much into disinterest.
Additionally, Goodwin often chose to engage with the audience, inquiring after the lateness of some, or noting the loud show in the venue next door- but one too many times. I felt she didn’t trust the material enough to be entertaining, and had to pick from her surroundings to get as much laughter as possible. Additionally, some of the stories – a few in a row about the various women she had been involved with, but ultimately ended it all with – seemed to be missing something. While Goodwin would explain why she had broken up with them, there wasn’t much in ways of what exactly she had learnt from each encounter, which I would’ve appreciated.
Despite all this, the show is undoubtedly funny. Not only that, it is very poignant at points. Goodwin offers a unique view as someone who followed religion and faith for most of her life- and all the guilt that came with it. The ending monologue, where she discusses forgoing her own internalised homophobia after the infamous Orlando Pulse shootings, is especially heartfelt, and a lovely way to end the show. Assisted by crude drawings projected onto the back of the space, a few British flags, some choice music, and the most ‘queer’ stories around, ‘A Very British Lesbian’ will appeal to those of all nationalities- and sexualities.
A Very British Lesbian runs Aug 4-12, 14-19, 21-26 – buy tickets here.
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