Texting and the lack thereof, relationships, and Maria Callas’s life, loves, and musical arias shared the stage in Regina Gibson’s one-woman show Divina, A Fantasy Cabaret, at Pangea, New York City.
Gibson introduced all of us in the room to her fictional, comical, and sensitive character, Mary, who bounded onto the stage in a blue housecoat and shower cap, with a soft drink in one hand. In her other was the communication tool no present-day adult can live without – a cell phone.
Mary placed the phone on someone’s table, eyes darting back and forth between the audience and the phone, afraid she missed a response from a gentleman. She engaged the crowd in some hearty, self-deprecating laughter in the opening schtick.
“You know how a watched pot doesn’t boil,” Mary said. “It’s like how a watched phone doesn’t text you back.”
The patrons responded with hysterical laughter as we all related to the same stressful angst of courting in the 21st century. Are we being ghosted, soft ghosted, or gaslit? Most of us have lived through one of these relationship-ending text games, and Gibson shared her personal dating anxiety through the gift of humor.
Mary obsessed over the fiery diva Maria Callas, “a Greek Goddess who could kick your ass.” Nicknamed La Divina (The Divine One), Callas had a life of fame, scandal, weight problems, and love affairs, yet wasn’t afraid to expose her vulnerability. Her torrid liaison with Aristotle Onassis made headlines around the globe.
Mary’s storytelling and singing brought the iconic soprano’s voice and legend to life.
“One of my biggest takeaways from Callas was that yes, she had her humiliations and defeats, but she also had her enormous triumphs and great loves,” Gibson said.
Mary engaged in back-and-forth exchanges with several people in the audience; the audience loved her style. She removed her bathrobe, and her voluptuous body was wrapped in a stunning red gown as she emulated Callas, the sexy Greek beauty. The captivating opera music astonished new and seasoned fans as well.
Callas once said, “Don’t talk to me about rules, dear. Wherever I stay, I make the goddamn rules.” When asked about playing by the rules, Gibson said she doubted she ever learned to and it’s there in her raucous satire.
Gibson’s voice was magnificent, and her comedy is insightful and worldly, poking fun at herself, and all of us too.
Gibson shared her English teacher’s wisdom. “If you put yourself out there in life, you are guaranteed to get hurt,” Gibson said. “If you play it safe and sit on the sidelines, you are not allowing yourself the chance at love, greatness, excitement, even fulfillment.”
Those in attendance at Pangea witnessed Gibson’s extraordinary ability to act, write, and sing, not sit on the sidelines. She revealed we can laugh at ourselves and with one another.
After all, dating is nothing more than a fantasy cabaret.
Divina, A Fantasy Cabaret, with Regina Gibson as Mary. Written by Regina Gibson. Directed by Stephanie Cunningham.
Running time is 60 minutes.
Pangea Restaurant and Alt-Cabaret Supper Club, 178 2nd Avenue, New York City, 10003