Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: Meetings With Remarkable Men And Where To Find Them

By Ed Malin

Christina Augello takes us on an adventure in Denial Is A Wonderful Thing, which she co-wrote with John Caldon.  Ryan Marchand directs.
In this quite personal, multi-continental story, Christina seems to be telling us her secret for staying agelessly beautiful.  In Mumbai, she meets an intriguing gentleman named Kim.  Kim, an Australian, is half Aborigine and half Scottish and has faced discrimination.  He informs Christina that Fosters is not a good beer, and keeps making sense after that.  As they enjoy less than 48 hours of the end of their foreign travels together, the two feel like they have known each other forever. Here the narrative masterfully jumps around to Christina’s childhood with her Sicilian family in Buffalo.  Her father (who she would later learn was her stepfather who married her mother when she was four) ran a popular restaurant.  Back then, the police and the bad guys were pretty much the same. Buffalo was a theater town, where denial is a wonderful thing. Her parents loved each other so much, they commissioned a portrait which hung in their home.  If you came home and the portrait was off the wall, they were having a fight. We also spend many exciting times in San Francisco in the 1960s, with plenty of hitchhiking, mind-altering substances and romance on the road.  So much, in fact that when Christina is given the opportunity to go to Woodstock in 1969 she turns it down.
photo by Steven Crouch
Many things pull Christina to Northern Australia, home of all sixteen of the world’s poisonous snakes as well as Kim.  It is a country where at the time of Kim’s birth, the government would take half-white and half-aboriginal children away from their mothers.  Kim’s mother fled so she could raise her child herself.  In some ways, the frontier-type places Kim takes Christina haven’t changed enough.  The outback adventures blend back into tales of Hippie Hill, San Francisco, which gradually lost its innocence.  Christina also talks about meeting her biological father, a DEA agent.  What is the best way to balance intensity, denial and happiness?
I looked at my watch and suddenly realized an hour had passed.  It takes a sincere storyteller to accomplish what Christina Augello has done.  And it’s apparently her first original solo show creation, produced by EXIT Theatre, the San-Francisco co-founder of Frigid Festival.   You can learn a lot about joie de vivre, several laid-back but vanished ways of life, and the great, unexpected adventures about to begin.