She’s on her honeymoon. Alone.
After the invitations had been mailed, the venue had been chosen, the wedding dress had undergone its final fitting, and all the non-refundable deposits had been paid, her fiancé decided that he didn’t want to marry her after all.
So here she is, sitting in an airport in Thailand, waiting for her flight to Myanmar. The trip was a gift from her would-have-been in-laws, who had won it in a raffle and given it to her with the stipulation that she could use it only during the monsoon season.
So now, as she sits flipping through the pages of a glossy magazine while the seasonal tempest rages outside, she can only wonder if she’ll wind up drowning or whether the rain will wash the airport away altogether. Whatever comes first.
Suddenly a handsome stranger enters the waiting room and sits down in one of the many empty chairs. Since they are alone, he attempts a casual conversation, but she, assuming he is hitting on her, rebuffs him firmly.
But he persists, and eventually, she responds. Their conversation slides from serious to silly as he teases her about her obsession with her cell phone and her emails and she says defensively, “You can’t delete Facebook even if you’re dead!”
He keeps telling her outrageous stories and then confessing that what he told her wasn’t true. For example, he tells her he is on assignment to write a cover story for a national magazine about Myanmar’s “unemployed elephants” whose work involved dragging precious teakwood out of the impenetrable jungle. But now that there are few trees left to harvest, many of the elephants, who apparently got a great deal of satisfaction out of their work, are jobless and depressed.
Next, he tells her that he is an associate producer and site-locator for the television program “Animal Planet.”
And finally, he admits that he is actually searching for his sister Katy,
who left home to become one of 300,000 Buddhist monks in Myanmar.
After she has gone from being wary to being intrigued, and trusting his promise that he will sleep on the floor, she agrees to share a hotel room with him. And then she drags him all over the city to see myriad temples and golden pagodas, all of which he dismisses as “a Buddha Disneyland.”
A few days later, after he has stopped sleeping on the floor, he asks her to join him in the search for his sister. She contemplates for about a minute and a half before accepting his invitation, justifying her decision by repeating her belief that “Nothing is real in a foreign country.”
What is real, however, in this delightful play, is his abundant humor and her extensive knowledge of trivial information. She also amazes him when she demonstrates that she knows how to manipulate a computer, and she is amazed to discover that he doesn’t.
This couple, who remains nameless throughout, is played by Brea Bee and Marshall McCabe and they are flawlessly wonderful and totally engaging. They balance each other perfectly, delivering their various emotions and facial expressions with perfect timing and credibility, and you will be as captivated by them as they appear to be with each other.
“Unemployed Elephants” was written by the award-winning Wendy Graf, one of my favorite playwrights, and directed by the award-winning Maria Gobetti, one of my favorite people. Between them, they have created a delicious play with laugh-out-loud dialogue and timing that doesn’t lag for a nanosecond.
Moreover, the play is enhanced by the contributions of projection designer Nick Santiago and the fresh, clean set design of Evan Bartoletti. Santiago’s design consists of gorgeous photos of the landscape, the exquisite architecture of the temples, and golden pagodas gleaming in the sun. He even has shots in the airport and on the plane, and he ends the play with a series of photos of brilliantly designed mandalas rendered in the vivid colors so admired in this beautiful Southeast Asian country.
“Unemployed Elephants” will continue at the Victory Theatre Center, 3324 West Victory Blvd. in Burbank, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 through April 15. For tickets, call 818-841-5422 or visit www.thevictorytheatrecenter.org