Terrence McNally is certainly one of the most celebrated playwrights in the American theatre, having received four Tony Awards, an Emmy, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a Rockefeller Grant among other commendations. And A Perfect Ganesh, a Pulitzer Prize nominee when it opened on Broadway in 1993, is one of his most celebrated plays.
Mr. McNally has been closely associated over the past few years with New Conservatory Theatre Center and they can legitimately claim to be expert and sympathetic interpreters of this important playwright. The current production of A Perfect Ganesh certainly demonstrates this to be true.
A Perfect Ganesh details the experience of two upper middle class matrons from Greenwich, Connecticut, on a pilgrimage to India as they seek spiritual and physical healing for personal reasons which become clear over the course of the play.
Both have suffered the death of a favorite child and both are guilt ridden about it. Katherine had rejected her gay son before he lost his life in a bashing. Margaret was enjoying a day in the park with her four year old son when he ran away from her into the path of an oncoming car.
The play is humorously narrated by the Hindu god, Ganesh, who appears as various characters, guiding the ladies’ experiences.
The play is a showcase for actresses of a certain age and Michaela Greely as Katherine and Cheryl Smith as Margaret are both excellent. Ms. Greely’s constantly changing moods and wonderfully communicative body language are a joy to watch. Ms. Smith expertly conveys the difficult character of the emotionally straight-jacketed Margaret.
Multiple roles (identified simply as “Man” in the program), are handled effectively by Seth Thygesen. He convincingly moves through a variety of characters and never fails to successfully tell the story of the play. His efforts at a variety of accents are less successful, however. He would do well to attempt less in that regard; trying too much detracts from his otherwise excellent performance.
Sara Razavi’s Ganesh is lovingly realized with great charm and a fine elegance of movement.
Astonishingly, there is no program credit for sound design on this production. It was outstanding. The constant background noise of India was unceasing and helped to create a vivid sense of place that was extremely effective.
A Perfect Ganesh continues at New Conservatory Theatre Center through December 19, 2010. Click here for further information.—Charles Kruger
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