YOGA PLAY at the Keegan Theater


For the regional premiere of Y at the Keegan Theateroga play by Dipika Guhadecorator Matthew J. Keenan offers an elegant beige set on which Jeremy BennettProjections of shine, burst, tell, move and comment. (Be sure to read the changing smoothie descriptions in the Jojomon Canteen.) Cindy Landrum Jacobs dresses the set in useful objects that effortlessly multitask, and Alberto Segarra’s lights unify everyone’s work. Sound designer Dan Deiter lets the audience down once in Act I when a phone conversation with a character’s mother is garbled and plot points are thus muffled. Otherwise, a very complicated sound plot adorns the production. Shadia Hafiz’s costume choices are suitable for corporate offices and Southern California yoga studios everywhere.

Anchored by outstanding performances from Keegan regulars and Helen Hayes Winners Katie McManus and Michel Innocenti, yoga game at its heart is a sweet allegory that challenges the American tendency to overvalue material satisfaction, which satisfaction then falls prey to corporate America’s tendency to commodify American tendencies. (and inhale) McManus plays Joan, a corporate builder tasked with managing the existential crisis of Jojomon — a company that makes and sells yoga gear whose manufacturing has apparently been contracted out to child laborers. Joan directs the two California-style worker bees, Raj and Fred, her off-stage assistant whose phone calls still interrupting something, and Romola, the manager of a yoga studio, who is her polar opposite. Joan tackles them, stress, Jojomon’s language obsessions (customers aren’t customers, they’re “family”. Yeah, right.) and the guru from India . McManus’ performance will remind viewers of a certain age of those guys with the plaques on the EdSullivan Show: she must keep everything in the spinning game. She does, and it’s thrilling to watch.

Carianmax Benitez (Romola) and Jacob Yeh (Fred) have only one level: hyper. Guha gave them facets that really shouldn’t be “always on”. Romola struggles to find authenticity on her yoga mat, and Fred has a belated coming out to his native Singapore. Growth is not revealed when an actor’s energy phaser is permanently set to “kill”. Vinay Sanapala uses a more subtle practice as Raj, the character who learns his own Indian culture as a second language. It supports the action of the play as the plot thickens; thanks to Sanapala’s shading and modeling, audiences can accurately read her newfound clarity and intent. Less is also much, much more for Innocenti as The Guru. He brings the only true stillness present in the production, despite the fact that most of the time neither his character mates nor the audience can tell if he is The Wizard of Oz or Richard Blaine (of Rick’s Café in Casablanca) . Her character and Innocenti’s performance complete Guha’s allegorical tapestry and satisfyingly reveal whether he is a good or bad witch.

With no stage directions available from Guha, it is unclear whether playwright or director, Susan Marie Rhea chose cartoonish farce as the dominant style for this production of yoga game. When Joan’s efforts to save Jojomon seem doomed, she voices an articulate description of America’s glass ceiling system which, of course, continues to doom the women’s efforts. But Guha, her drama professor at Yale, Paula Vogel, McManus, Rhea and KBJ (just . . . because) did not succeed and prevailed because they ran as the love child of Wile Coyote and the Wicked Witch of the West until the yoga practice helps them to change. Talent, patience, diligence, skill, wisdom, know-how, immobility never have to compete because they always trump (pardon the expression) farce. the words of yoga game expose it amply and richly; hysteria need not apply.

Happy silver birthday, Keegan. yoga games a good choice for 2022 because America never really knows who it is, and this piece is about learning what to know and how to know it.

The two-hour game runs until April 23; find tickets for yoga game to

(photo by Cameron Whitman

(from left to right) : Jacob Yeh, Katie McManusVinay Sanapala)


Comments are closed.