Go to the Argonaut, grab a beer and then head upstairs and sit a spell. Dana Scott Galloway will transport you to Gloryland. It’s an archetypal Texas small town with “Nine churches, two flashing lights,” and not much else.
It’s the sort of place where the word “play” refers to sports, certainly not instruments, and where folks are suspicious of anybody who is “merely smart.” Into this setting Galloway introduces the eponymous hero of the show. Augustus is an opera-loving, flute (and bassoon, and oboe)-playing teen who embraces his own interests, quirky as they may be by small-town-Texas standards, while at the same time dreaming of glory on the high school football field. As Augustus attempts to balance his competing goals, he is bullied by a teenage roustabout, admonished by his Swedish music teacher, and championed—well, sort of—by Zeke, the team’s quarterback.
Galloway tells Augustus’ story with the bright enthusiasm and rolling tones of a revival preacher. His Permian Basin accent is spot on (as it turns out, it sounds authentic because Galloway really is a Texas native). I’m not much of a football fan. As a west Texas gal myself, I was drawn to the show because of its setting, not because of its subject matter. Still, I couldn’t help but be swept along by the story’s quick pace. By the time Augustus and his Gloryland Javelinas were facing off against the Baby Head Cougars in a pivotal game, I was hooked. Augustus the Sissy never quite reached a climax as dramatic as its energetic delivery seemed to promise, but I didn’t regret a bit of my journey with the character.
Augustus the Sissy
Written and performed by Dana Galloway
Directed by lisa Hodsoll
Details and tickets
The story pokes gentle fun at stereotypes, and it will feel incredibly recognizable to anybody who has ever spent time in a small Texas town. Indeed, the show will likely strike a familiar note for anyone who has had to navigate small-town life anywhere in the U.S., or been a daydreaming teenager—in other words, all of us. But while the small town teen angst is funny and relatable, it also would have been nice to see Galloway do even more exploration of the places where the stereotypes of small town characters begin to break down. Another minor quibble is that the brief video component of the show felt out of place and should either have been integrated more fully throughout the piece or removed completely.
Overall, Galloway spins his yarn with all the confidence of the best tall tale tellers. Director Lisa Hodsoll’s blocking turns the cramped performance space into a virtue, as Galloway bounds into and out of the audience, further reeling us in. The small performance space also makes for good post-show eavesdropping. Upon the show’s conclusion, I overheard a woman exclaim, “That was so good! I was completely caught up in his story!” Give Galloway forty minutes of your time and you may just find yourself swept away as well.