Kedar K. Adour

Performing Arts Reviews

Yoga Play a satirical comedy based on a news story

Ryan Morales (Fred), Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari (Raj), and Susi Damilano (Joan) confer with Craig Marker (John) in a scene from Yoga Play (Photo by: Jessica Palopoli

YOGA PLAY: Comedy by Dipika Guha. Directed by Bill English. San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post Street, San Francisco, 2nd floor of the Kensington Park Hotel. at 415-677-9596, or online at https://www.sfplayhouse.org/sfph/2018-2019-season/yoga-play/.

March 12 through April 20, 2019

Yoga Play a satirical comedy based on a news story.

In December of 2013 Lullulemon a maker of overpriced yoga gear had a couple of mishaps including telling women that yoga pants aren’t meant for everyone’s bodies. That caused their sales to tumble and the stock price took a big loss.  Founder and CEO Chip Wilson stepped down new management took over. Scene one of Yoga Play: The name of the yoga apparel company is Jojomon and the CEO John Dale (Craig Marker) is on a sabbatical. New hire Joan (Susi Damilano) is brought on board to save the company. The secret to success is to be a new line of $200 lavender-scented yoga pants in sizes to fit all body sizes.

Before there was Skype to make video conference calls authors were content to “write” a telephone into their scripts to create off stage characters. Skype has become ubiquitous in plays seen around the Bay Area and SF Playhouse ups the ante for this play with a huge circular screen dominating rear stage. Craig Marker, playing against his usual leading role types projects John Hale’s egotistical lasciviousness getting the intended laughs insisting that the “yoga family’ must be restored and profits increased.

Joan and the company have another more serious public relations disaster when it became known that their products are made by child labor under harsh conditions. Via Skype: “Didn’t you know they were under 12 years of age?”  No laughs there, but the play must go on.

Joan has two in-house assistants to “help” her out of the company dilemma but they have their own problems and their help is marginal and could be damaging. The solution is to find a local Indian guru to re-establish the “spiritual” side of the yoga. Raj (Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari) should be the candidate but he was born in the U.S.A and does not speak Hindu and has no concept of Indian yoga. His work mate Fred (Ryan Morales) although he was raised in Singapore is gay, super stressed out and worries about job security. Raj is to become the “authentic guru.” Dressed in tattered robes, full face beard, full head of hair and a walking stick his turn on stage creates additive satirical humor.

Somewhere along their journey to find a local guru the trio approach Romola (Ayelet Firstenberg) who practices ‘celebrity’ yoga and envelopes herself in silk ropes dangling from the ceiling. (A directorial conceit??) They eventually find a guru living near Tibet (Craig Marker again as Guruji) who is not what he seems to be but does have the spiritual aura needed by the company. Although Guruji is a fake guru his demeanor allows Joan to vent her true feelaings about women in the work place that elicits a roar from the audience.

Susi Damilano has a great ability to portray characters with hidden personal turmoil and she does not disappoint in this play. Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari and Ryan Morales provide broad acting skills to their secondary roles and come to life when needed getting solid laughs. It is always a pleasure to see Craig Marker on stage and he gives his two major roles a jolt of truth contrasting to the long periods of silence when meditating on center stage.

Once again the great production values of SF Playhouse sometimes overwhelm the action on stage. Nina Ball’s set is gorgeous in design and color greatly enhanced by the non-traditional yoga paraphernalia as yoga balls, yoga mats, yoga blocks, yoga pants etc.

Bill English again balances the nuance of the plays multilevel meanings and physicality to create well-paced evening.  Running time of two hours with an intermission.

CAST: Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari as Raj; Susi Damilano as Joan; Ayelet Firstenberg as Romola, Mrs. Kapoor, Lucy, Nooyi, Lauren Clark Rose; Craig Marker as Guruji, John Dale, Mr. Kapoor, Alan Carr; Ryan Morales as Fred.

CREATIVE TEAM: Scenic Design by Nina Ball; Lighting by Kurt Landisman; Sound and Projections by Teddy Hulsker; Costumes by Rachel Heiman.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com

Ryan Morales (Fred), Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari (Raj), and Susi Damilano (Joan) confer with Craig Marker (John) in a scene from Yoga Play (Photo by: Jessica Palopoli)