MTC Produces Bay Area Premier of Rajiv Joseph’s Guards at the Taj As Its 5th Production of The 50th Anniversary Season
Prior to this production, this Critic saw two wonderful productions by Rajiv Joseph at the San Francisco Playhouse. They were called Animals out of Paper and van Gogh Tiger at The Baghdad Zoo.
However, Guards at the Taj is whole other type of play. When we enter to go to our seats, we are greeted by Annie Smart’s brilliant set at the entrance to the Taj in 1948 Agra, India. When two station guards (Jason Kapoor as Humayun and Rushi Kota as Babur) get swept up in their curiosity and doubt, their seemingly straight-forward-past becomes far more complex, and their friendship and wills are tested. Combining well-placed comedic dialogue (as in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot) and physicality with the heartbreaking obsession with being human, Joseph’s production explores depth of irony with a dark side that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Although the guards are to stand in silence, as they protect the Taj, Joseph gives them some dialogue to define their personalities. In the process, Humayun attempts to silence Babur – without success.
Jasson Minadakis’ direction is outstanding, and this play is beautifully acted by the two guards. Jason Kapoor does a fantastic job as an actor, and Rushi Kota also does an ambitious job. Humayun has a great desire to advance to a better station in life; while Rushi’s happy-go-lucky Babur denies any ambition at all. (The climactic ending will shock you.)
Particularly effective are the contributions by the Creative Team; such as the sets and scenic design by Annie Smart, the clever costumes by Fumiko Bielefeldt, and the atmospheric light Hindustani music and sound design by Chris Houston. Other contributions that add to the atmosphere are the Lighting Design by Mike Post, the Stage Manager, Sean McStravick, the Prop Master Lizabeth Stanley, the Casting Director, Dori Jacob, and the Dramaturg, Laura A. Brueckner, and finally the contributions of the Assistant Director Madison Gordon.
Guards at the Taj began its run April 6th and will continue through the matinee on May 21st, 2017, at the home of the Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley.
Remaining Performances: Tuesdays through Sundays 7:30 p.m.
Matinees: 2:00 p.m., Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21
For tickets, contact Marin Theatre Company at 415-388-5208, or purchase online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming up next from June 8 thru July 2 will be The Legend of Georgia McBride by Matthew Lopez, and Directed by Kent Gash.
Flora Lynn Isaacson