Photo by David Cooper
The great thing about an opening night is the excitement, and the chance to meet the people in the show afterwards.
The downside is they can sometimes still be working out a couple of kinks.
It was hard to make out what the actors were saying some of the time and what the off-stage voices were saying over half the time, in the world premiere of Dipila Guha’s, Yoga Play, at Richmond Gateway Theatre.
So as not to prime the pump, I asked others at the break and at the reception what they thought of the play. One person sitting much closer than we were, said: “They speak so quickly. It’s hard to make out what they’re saying.”
They did slow down in the second half and that helped. But still, the lack of consistent volume continued to be a problem. The actors did not have microphones in this production. They might have benefited from amplification.
Another theatre-goer said: “I bet if you could hear the words, it would be really funny.”
The words we could make out were really funny. The play is witty, relevant and deeper than one would expect from a comedy, with examples like Raj from New Jersey’s line: “Do you think there’s a special place in hell for people who appropriate their own culture?”
The play takes Indian culture seriously but not itself. All the jokes are on those who pretend to be deeply into Indian spirituality. This play punctures the pomposity of cultural appropriation: stealing someone else’s spiritual practices to make them marketable.
It is surprising that this oh-so-Vancouver play is set in the United States.
The play elicits laughter the moment it begins when one of the large screens has a view of a very-much Chip Wilson-esque person supposedly on a video call. The corporate setting of the play echoes many of the issues and the ethos of lululemon without mentioning it ever by name.
The knowing laughter continued, with more laughs coming from the front rows than the back.
Both the depth and humour of the play showed in the call to mindfulness: “You are not a human doing; you are a human being.”
There was also the prescient line: “I had a dream that I was on stage naked and no one could hear me.”
At the reception it was clear; what people could hear, they loved. The performance received two curtain calls.
First off, Gateway Theatre’s Yoga Play is funny and well-worth seeing. Secondly, until they fix the problem with the sound, get tickets for a night when you can sit in the first few rows.
For tickets: call 604-270-1812, go into Gateway Theatre’s box office 6500 Gilbert Rd, or online.
For more detailed preview click.