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|A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
By Laura Hitchcock
The sly guru attached to his cell phone who dances a parody of Al Pacino's terrible tango is not as fantastic a character as he appears in Richard Abrons' Three Travelers. This writer remembers well a speech in Berkeley by a famous Tibetan monk who was flamboyantly stoned. "Because I take a trip," he said, smiling blissfully, "do not you take a trip."
It's fun to be back in those trippy times. Abrons gently weaves between the head-trip games of the New Age movement and the moments of cleansing that longed-for revelations bring.
Three travelers seek out a guru with a reputation for healing and helping somewhere in the depths of India. "Fun is the most important thing," he tells them coyly. "Enlightenment comes from inside. I can only give you a long ride from outside."
That sounds fine to corporate whiz Travis and his uptight preppy wife Mavis, though their charming English friend Lydia thinks he's dangerous. Abrons ratchets up the suspense with her alarms and the Guru's repeated warnings that they must finish before the gathering dark clouds arrive overhead. The Guru never probes but he's fierce. He starts them on a series of games like what do you fear, what do you want to get rid of, stepping down to the bottom line: "What's consuming you?"
What's consuming Travis and Mavis is no surprise, nor is Guru's declaration that he cannot help by teaching them a mantra when their three inner palaces are really three hovels. Mavis voices the audience's suspicions that the three have come to India to dump their painful secrets. The secrets are ones which consume many people. The way each character deals with the truth when it comes out propels the plot along. When the play ends, Abrons leaves us with the feeling that two of the three travelers are still in denial and we could very easily enjoy watching the next act of these characters' lives.
Abrons handles this familiar material deftly in light comedic fashion and he writes character beautifully. Perhaps the play works so well because director Jay Broad brings out the characters' anxieties and grounds them with a solid sense of realism.
Daniel Zacapa punctures the Guru's ingenuous manner with an uncanny ability to pounce. Joel Polis makes Travis a strong corporate joker and Amy Wieczorek finds the delicate charm in Lydia, a joker in her own way, but terrific at hiding it. Elizabeth Karr, who has a model's WASP beauty, successfully projects an awkward uptight Mavis.
Don Llewellyn's set design brings color and variety to the Odyssey's tiny space by using a beehive-shaped structure, reminiscent of ancient tombs, for the Guru's perch and painting a mural in desert tones along the back wall. Derrick McDaniel's lighting design is like liquid sand and Karen Perry's costume designs add variety and beauty to their sure sense of character.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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