Remaining Performances (tickets available here):
Friday, July 17, 8:15 p.m. Sunday, July 19, 4:45 p.m. Friday, July 24, 6:00 p.m. Saturday, July 25, 1:00 p.m.
They say: An epic tall tale of Gloryland, Texas and a boy named Augustus St. Kroll – a story about friendship, football and the gift of being different.
Sean’s take: For a show about a kid with passions for classical music and football, there wasn’t a whole lot of either in Augustus The Sissy. The story, written and performed by Dana Galloway, isn’t particularly groundbreaking: Augustus is an apparently talented multi-instrumentalist who nonetheless dreams of being the star receiver on his high school football team. Galloway portrays an older Texan with an unspecified connection to Augustus and his town of Gloryland. His narration is part folklore, part epic, and several parts folksy affectation.
Augustus covets the popularity and status that comes with being a football hero while his domineering music instructor envisions his future playing Carnegie Hall. He’s is bullied along the way for being a “sissy,” until the star quarterback, who also harbors a secret passion for music, befriends and defends him. Augustus joins the football team in his senior year and eventually gets his shot at glory in the final play of the championship game.
There are some unique details and characters, but the plot line is all too familiar: a loser kid gains the respect of his peers through an unlikely friendship with a popular kid.
In the hands of a less talented storyteller, this show would fall flat. Fortunately, Galloway’s strength is in his telling. Cards on the table: I went to this show because, as a Texan and a bit of a sissy, I felt it was my duty to assess the accuracy of Galloway’s portrayal of being a high school sissy in the lone star state. The show passed my accuracy test with flying colors, mostly due to Galloway’s spot-on impersonation of a small-town folklorist.
If Galloway did not live in Texas at some point in his life, I would wager that he has at least spent a few slow afternoons on the back porch with Texans of a certain age. He tells the story as though it were an ancient epic, punctuating every line with sweeping full-arm gestures and head-scratching colloquialisms. The style will be familiar to anyone who has heard stories of the glory days from a former Texas high school football player, which most people (if not everyone) in Texas has. For those who have not had that distinct pleasure, Galloway offers the closest thing I’ve seen this side of Texarkana.
In a pearl-snap shirt and pointed brown boots, Galloway certainly looks the part, and though Gloryland, Texas is not a real place, Galloway nails all the details, describing Gloryland as a “gas stop on the highway” with a good-ol’-boy Sheriff and nine churches. Galloway goes a little too folksy at points, like when he says “their compassion is so small it could fit in the navel of a weevil,” but those moments are usually just ridiculous enough to get a laugh without derailing the story.
His storytelling is best when it’s at its most surreal: The opposing team from Babyhead become snarling beasts with red eyes and mythical origins. You can almost see the narrator losing control of his own exaggerations and in the process, making the story more interesting and epic.
Ultimately, the story isn’t one that you will ponder for days, but the storytelling is charming, witty, and just plain entertaining. The show is a quick 50 minutes, and Galloway’s energetic style ensures that he doesn’t lose your attention for any part of it.
See it if: You appreciate the value of good old-fashioned storytelling but can’t afford a plane ticket to visit your relatives in Texas.
Skip it if: You’re looking for complex characters or narratives, and Texas accents upset you.