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Spooky Universe Theater: Universalist National Memorial Church, 1810 16th St NW

Remaining Performances:

Thursday, July 14th at 8:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 16th at 11 p.m.
Sunday July 17th at 2 p.m.
Saturday July 23rd at 6:30 p.m.

They say:Sanyasi 2011 is play written in 1917 by Ranbindranath Tagore and performed by our company today. With original composition and ensemble acting, we invite you into the world of Sanyasi as he journeys through pain, loss, and beauty.”

Emery’s Take: “Only he is pure who has washed away the world from his mind,” remarks Sanyasi (Evan Sanderson) in Namayesh Productions’ presentation of Sanyasi, which tells the story of a holy man’s journey to achieve Nirvana. With Ameneh Bordi’s direction, and a great ensemble cast of young actors, this century-old Indian play is beautifully reframed for a modern audience.

The Spooky Universe Theater is located in the back of a church, which seems appropriate given the spirituality that pervades the production. As Sanyasi wanders the land having forsaken all worldly and materialistic pursuits, he is witness to a series of encounters between regular people — mothers, daughters, students, beggars, soldiers etc. — that influence his deliberations between his undying faith and our mortal world.

What really impresses is that all these characters, 35 in total, are all played amongst each other by only five actors. In a cast of seven, at no point in time during the performance do you ever get the sense that the same people are on stage. Besides Evan’s Sanyasi, the only other actor who plays only a single character is Nikki Massoud as Vasanti. Her charming performance as the innocent child who manages to make the biggest impact in Sanyasi’s development cannot be overlooked.
Sanyasi’s journey from zealot to skeptic comes off without a glitch — a testament to the strength of Tragore’s script, but also to the versatility of the actors, the original music by Keith Adams and Bordi’s direction.

See it if: You’re looking for a little bit of soul at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival.

Skip it if: You’re already gone through the four stages of life.