Mysticism and myth run deep in Indian culture. It has long been a magnet-destination for westerners seeking the meaning of life and answers to its mysteries.
In the just opened CV REP Theatre production of “A Perfect Ganesh”, written by Terrence McNally and deftly directed by theatre artistic director Ron Celona, the search by westerners for answers, is what peaked the curiosity of playwright McNally. Setting his play on the Indian Sub-continent, with its exotic cities amid millions of people, is an interesting location choice in which to share a story of two middle-age American women, neighbors and friends, who are on a journey/vacation tour of discovery. It is the eastern culture with its secrets and promise of revelations (if any) that attract the two women to India, but each for different reason.
The play pivots around the character of the Ganesh (an excellent Mueen Jahan) and his interaction with Margaret and Katherine. Genesha means wisdom in Hindi and takes the form of a “Ganesh” (or guardian angel if you’re a westerner). In the case of Margaret and Katherine, although they don’t realize it, their Ganesh has a taken a personal interest in them; guiding them toward an understanding and a reconciliation of the troubling situations they left back home in Connecticut. They both have husbands and children back home.
Facilitating their journey through bustling, Bombay (now called Mombai), Agra and the Taj Mahal, and on trains, ships, and hotels, is a character called the Man, who plays six characters and is creatively played by Sean Galuszka.
The two women, wonderfully played Sharon Sharth as Margaret and Kathleen M. Darcy as Katherine, produce splendid on-stage emotional chemistry and performances. Their relationship, albeit, prickly and contentious at times, is centered on respect and love for one another and it’s what helps make their story so relevant for today’s audiences.
“A Perfect Ganesh” is not only deeply moving, but is also filled with comedic moments, as Margaret and Katherine seek ways to come to grips with their personal feelings concerning the loss of their sons. Humor has a way of meeting and serving the drama more than half way. Director Celona and his excellent ensemble cast have negotiated some tricky dramatic moments without slipping into melodrama.
In the technical credits department the set design by Jimmy Cuomo cleverly enlarges his staging area, allowing for movement necessary for the multi-locations and props required to render a true feel for the country. The costumes and the elephant headdress worn by the Ganesh are designed and created by resident costume designer Aalsa Lee.
“A Perfect Ganesh” runs through to February 9, 2014. For reservations and ticket information call 760-296-2966.