By Jean Lowerison
The road to enlightenment may be paved with good intentions, but for high-end yogawear manufacturer Jojomon (not much interested in enlightenment), the road to riches seems laden with stress.
Still, Jojomon is doing well under the frazzled head of recently hired CEO Joan (Jo Anne Glover), thanks in part to inflated clothing prices like $200 for a pair of lavender-scented yoga pants. Any perceived resemblance between Jojomon and Lululemon is strictly intentional.
Joan has recently had to try to distance the company as quickly as possible from costly gaffes like founder John’s infelicitous comment that women who complain that Jojomon’s pants are too see-through may just be carrying around excess poundage.
Moxie Theatre’s current offering, Dipika Guha’s “Yoga Play” takes great delight in outlining (and messing with) the intersection between Eastern philosophy and Western capitalism. But rest assured that this is no dry dissertation on ideals vs. money. “Yoga Play” is funny — laugh-out-loud funny.
In an attempt to derail any residual resistance from John’s comment, Joan comes up with a revolutionary idea: adding size 12 to its line. After a weak complaint that the clothing line is “aspirational,” John greenlights the idea and a new factory in Bangladesh is contracted.
But soon thereafter, a new disaster looms: the BBC airs a segment stating that the factory is a sweatshop hiring mostly children, many as young as 9 years old.
This calls for another Joan fix.
In the executive meeting with Raj (Sri Chilukuri) and Fred (Albert Park), you can almost see Joan’s brain about to explode as she deals with this potential business disaster.
Her solution: Jojomon will import a real live guru to calm the waters and purify the company’s image. And perhaps reestablish their fading authenticity.
It gets crazier and funnier from there, as staff prepares for the guru’s arrival and Raj takes yoga lessons from unbelievably limber (and lovely) Romola (Tamara Rodriguez) so Jojomon won’t seem totally — how shall I say it? — inauthentic.
Moxie’s associate artistic director Callie Prendiville makes an impressive directorial debut here, keeping all the balls in the air and the stress under control.
It’s a real pleasure to see Jo Anne Glover back onstage. She is the perfect Joan — capable, determined and totally stressed out. She’s the one who needs yoga lessons (don’t be fooled: Glover is a yoga expert in real life).
Sri Chilukuri is a welcome new face on the Moxie stage. His Raj is funny (especially when he tries to learn some yoga poses from Tamara Rodriguez). And when Raj and Albert Park’s Fred are called upon to speak Hindi (which neither knows) — well, it’s a gas.
Much of the dialogue takes place on the phone, and Matthew Salazar-Thompson and Rodriguez share seven phone characters splendidly.
Kudos to set designer Divya Murthy, who manages to get both businesslike and more spiritual looks on opposite sides of the stage.
Lighting and sound are well handled by Christopher Renda and Matt Lescault-Wood.
East and West have always met rather uneasily. That’s true here, too, but in “Yoga Play” it’s also fun.
— Jean Lowerison is a long-standing member of the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org