Terence McNally's A PERFECT GANESH at the Vancouver Playhouse

by Anthony McGrann

A Perfect Ganesh
by Terence McNally
Directed by Glynis Leyshon
Now playing at the Vancouver Playhouse
Until December 20th, 1997
Tickets: 873-3311

Two women who take not just a vacation to India but more so a spiritual journey is the theme of this play. McNally takes two characters whose lives are so different yet similar--they are both searching to be healed from their inner demons--two middle class, North American women embarking on a quest. Ganesha (an Indian god) narrates part of the story and acts as guide through their journey--a spiritual tour guide of sorts.

One finds himself laughing through McNally’s witty humour as he places these women in a setting where the culture is completely foreign to them. However, as each of their dark secrets are revealed, the play takes on a very emotional and intense tone. Both women deal with relationships that are stale, and together they feel this is a good trip to take. Leaving their husbands behind, they embark on their quest. Throughout their trip, their buried secrets haunt them.

Margaret Civil (Patti Allan) deals not only with a lump on her breast that isn’t going away, but also the secret that even her best friend, Katherine Brynne (Nicola Cavendish) doesn’t know--the death of her four-year old son over twenty years ago. Katherine also has her secret: she has to face up to the guilt of losing her son to a gay bashing. On top of that, she has to deal with her racism, fueled by the fact that the men who killed her son were black.

The cast executes this entertaining yet complex play very well. Both Patti Allan and Nicola Cavendish do an excellent job, particularly Cavendish who is a delight to watch. But the actor who really stands out in this production is Vik Sahay, who plays Ganesha. He takes on female and male roles of various different cultures and does so rather brilliantly. Although the many foreign accents he uses are slightly stereotypical, it works well in this play. Also commendable is Roman Danylo who takes on several characters including Margaret’s four-year old son, Gabriel, as well as Katherine’s gay son, Walter.

Another success in this play is the set. Visually stunning in its simplicity, yet highly effective as scene changes occur very frequently.

The wonderful direction of Glynis Leyshon is quite seamless and almost goes unnoticed. The characters are all believable. Together with the stunning set and strong performances, McNally’s words are woven in a play which would be a perfect ending to a perfect day.