nytheatre.com review by Lisa Ferber
January 22, 2008
Three Travelers by Richard Abrons is a smart comedy about three travelers who confront an irreverent guru in their search to better themselves...and yet, I'm not exactly sure what the point was.
The elegant, highly mannered Lydia (Kathleen McNenny) has told unhappily married Travis (Stephen Schnetzer) and Mavis (Judith Lightfoot Clark)—he, a bombastic, pompous stereotype of the jerky Wall Street broker involved in underhanded activity; she, a caustic and somewhat depressed art lecturer—that a particular guru saved the life of a suicidal friend. "She was suicidal," Lydia says, "But the last time I saw her she was glowing with content. She was taking people to the Tate gallery."
So the trio traipse off to India to find the guru, played by a very talented Kenneth Maharaj, who, using a voice that sounds both powerful and content, conveys the great master's mischievousness effectively. We first see the guru sitting atop a mountain (presented to us in a well-designed set by Don Llewellyn), answering a call on his cell phone.
Now, this is not your peace-and-love, hug-supplying guru. He's a bit of a challenge. He tells the group he's currently reading The Story of O. When asked, "This is a guru book?" he answers, "Good guru book. It teaches submission."
He lets us know right off the bat that he is very fond of money, displaying a portable credit-card reading machine. And then he tosses a bunch of cards in the air and suggests they all play 52 Pickup.
The guru delivers a bunch of questions to the group: What would you like to eat right now? (Inspiring a slightly cringeworthy joke from Travis delivered in a yuk-yuk manner: "A cheeseburger. It's a lot of cholesterol but I am taking my Lipitor!") Who would you like to be? What would you like to get rid of in your personality? What are you most afraid of?
Everyone here seems clearly tortured about something from the start, and we eventually find out what's going on inside their minds. I won't give away the surprises, but it's hard to know who to root for here since none of the characters seems all that complex or at all concerned with their fellow person. It's interesting to watch due to dedicated performances, and there is the cute running gag of a guru who seems so un-guru like. And yet somehow, I wish the play had gone deeper into these characters. I left feeling entertained, yet not exactly sure what I learned, or what anyone in the group really learned.