Terrence McNally’s “A Perfect Ganesh” is more than 20 years old yet the maxim that only times change and not people could never be more true. Produced at Manhattan Theater Club in 1993, such conveniences as cellphones and tablets were not even a gleam and women of the vintage of Luna Stage’s Katharine (Mona Hennessy) and Margaret (Linda Setzer) these days are as likely to want to skype with people at home. We are transported back to 1992 where paper plane tickets were what we had, and lots and lots of suitcases.
Hennessy and Setzer are veterans of Luna Stage, having starred in “Vita and Virginia” and “Copenhagen” respectively. Taking on very different roles here, their chemistry reads very much of a long-term friendship that permits certain liberties–like frank speech. On the other hand, are they too close to share some of their secrets? Travel is broadening and share experiences can bring shattering new depth to relationships.
James Rana’s Ganesh is pure delight! First, the costume piece that is Ganesh’s head is the perfect piece to complement the stage set–a diaphanous series of curtains that reveal and hide as needed. We can see Rana, yet not, much as we sometimes detect in a glimpse more than may be seen in direct gaze. We are conscious of man and character and both he and Segun Akande, as The Man, get many opportunities to demonstrate their multiple talents and accents. Rana is light on his feet and navigates the various pieces of the set with aplomb and grace and Ganesh provides just the right notes in the orchestration of emotion throughout the piece.
Segun Akande is literally Every Man. He is husband and son, stranger and new friend, and his characterization of the Air India attendant is fun and brilliant both. He is heedless as Katharine’s husband George and attentive when acting as her son Walter. The dream-states where Walter interacts with his mother and reveals more and more of their relationship are heart-catching and, when Margaret cuts in on tuxedo’d Walter dancing with Katharine, Margaret’s previous revelations make the moment that much more heart rending.
Is this a long, sentimental evening’s journey into a dark night of many souls? You bet. There is something for everyone’s heart strings in this play and it’s a worthy revival. You’ll be in deft and skillful hands and you’ll walk away with a lot to think about. Consider attending one of the dates where there’s a talkback with the cast and give yourself a number of gifts in one evening.
“A Perfect Ganesh” continues at Luna Stage through February 22, and giving an experience to someone you love is the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Visit www.LunaStage.org
for tickets and more information.