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Edited and Published by Robert W. McDowell

March 3, 2022 Issue
PART 3 (March 2, 2022)

A FREE Weekly E-mail Newsletter Covering Theater, Dance, Music, and Film in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill/Carrboro Area of North Carolina Since April 2001.


PlayMakers Repertory Company Review

PlayMakers Rep's Yoga Play Enlightens and Entertains

Julia Gibson (left), Mia Pinero, and Sergio Mauritz Ang star as Joan, Lauren Lilly Clark Rose, and Fred (photo by Michael Sparks)

In a world that commercializes everything from healthcare to fitness to spirituality, it's often hard to distinguish wellness from trendiness. This confusing conundrum is at the heart of Dipika Guha's complex and comedic Yoga Play, beautifully directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh and onstage now at PlayMakers Repertory Company.

Guha's story is a modern one, full of allusions to some of the "crunchiest" fads around. It's centered around not-so-centered Joan, portrayed by the talented Julia Gibson. She's the newest CEO of athletic-wear giant, Jojomon, and has been tasked with rebuilding the brand's less-than-PC reputation.

With some forward-thinking and the help of coworkers Fred (Sergio Mauritz Ang) and Raj (Naren Weiss), Joan is confident that she can pull it off. But then the brand faces another publicity nightmare, forcing Joan to take some unorthodox (and desperate) actions. Her choice sets off a surprising chain of events that leads to some interesting interactions and, ultimately, a lot of soul-searching for everyone involved.

Jan Chambers' clean, sleek set brings both the ultra-modern Jojomon office and the hippest "Somewhere, California" yoga studio to life in a wonderfully appealing way. Bordered by zen rock gardens, yet surrounded by subtle projection screens, it's both functional and representative of the play's themes. It's a place viewers want to be, but should they?

PlayMakers' regional premiere of Dipika Guha's Yoga Play, directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh, stars (from left) Naren Weiss as Raj,
Sergio Mauritz Ang as Fred, Jeffrey Blair Cornell (video screen) as John Dale, and Julia Gibson as Joan (photo by Michael Sparks)

When a story that criticizes commercialism combines with a set that makes it seem so wonderfully soothing, viewers are forced to ask themselves the tough questions that Dipika Guha's script posits: What is fraud? What is truth? What are people really searching for, and why are they looking in all the wrong places?

Of course, not every moment is fraught with these tough questions. PlayMakers Rep's production of Yoga Play is also a lot of fun. Some of the best moments come whenever the scene-stealing Mia Pinero is on stage. And, though she plays a host of characters, she's most memorable as sweet-but-stressed Lauren Lilly Clark Rose, the hilarious young yoga instructor and Jojomon brand ambassador to whom Joan and staff turn for help. Jeffrey Blair Cornell is also tasked with multiple roles, but adds the most lightness and hilarity in his Matthew McConaughey-esque turn as long-haired John Dale, Jojomon's founder.

The humor sprinkled throughout keeps the show intriguing, but it's never so overpowering as to detract from the tough topics explored here. Ultimately, viewers are left with lots to ponder and a few potent words of wisdom: "Connect to your true self and know how to act." In the world of the play, they come from a questionable source, but then, doesn't most of the advice we follow? Yoga Play asks viewers to think about where their "wisdom" comes from, to question their judgments, but also to trust themselves when it really counts.

Never flashy but always fascinating, this is a wonderfully unique show, the kind modern theater could use more of. Laugh, think, and listen, because this is one production worthy of all three.

PlayMakers Repertory Company will stage Dipika Guha's Yoga Play, directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh, on Feb. 23-March 13 in the Paul Green Theatre at UNC-Chapel Hill

Dipika Guha's YOGA PLAY (In Person regional premiere at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 2-6 and 8-13, and streamed March 7-13), directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh and starring (in alphabetical order) Sergio Mauritz Ang as Fred; Jeffrey Blair Cornell as John Dal, Alar Carr, Mr. Kapoor, and Guruji; Julia Gibson as Joan; Mia Pinero as Romola, Lucy, Nooyi, Mrs. Kapoor, and Lauren Lilly Clark Rose; and Naren Weiss as Raj (PlayMakers Repertory Company in the Paul Green Theatre in UNC-Chapel Hill's Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art). DIGITAL PLAYBILL: TRAILERS: and 2021-22 SEASON: PRC NEWS RELEASES: and THE PRESENTER:,,,, and PRC BLOG: THE PLAY:,,, and THE PLAYWRIGHT:,,, and THE VENUE: DIRECTIONS/PARKING: CAROLINA TOGETHER COVID-19 PAGE: NOTE 1: At 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 6th, there will be an Open Captioned Performance, with a "universal-access" live-caption unit communicating the show's dialog, sound effects, and stage directions. NOTE 2: PlayMakers Rep will present Special Socially Distanced Performances at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday-Thursday, March 8-10. TICKETS: $20 and up, plus taxes and fees. Click here to buy tickets. INFORMATION: 919-962-7529 or PLEASE DONATE TO: PlayMakers Repertory Company.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh's Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. She is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read more of Susie Potter's writings, click,, and


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