O Guru Guru Guru, or why I don’t want to go to yoga class with you
By Mallery Avidon
Directed by Lila Neuberger
This subversive assessment of the craze for spiritual enlightenment has an odd structure. The first part is basically a lecture delivered (but to whom?) by a 30-year-old woman, Lila (Rebecca Hart). … The play then abruptly turns into a facsimile of a “satsang,” or a gathering for purposes of collective meditation … Then suddenly we are on the set for the movie version of “Eat, Pray, Love,” where Julia Roberts (Khrystyne Haje) dispenses some life lessons to Lila, an extra. This last third has a charming unexpectedness that helps to make up for the lack of real drama that came before. There’s cheeky fun in Ms. Avidon’s suggestion that a glossy movie star could be as helpful a spiritual guide as the revered leaders of popular movements.
– Charles Isherwood, New York Times
In an interview, Avidon says that she writes her plays for an audience of one, and for “O Guru Guru Guru,” she is the intended audience. That’s what the third act feels like — a writer working out her own issues with the help of a benign fictional spirit guide who expects nothing yet illuminates all of the play’s complex issues in a few soothing truths. It’s not clear what’s at stake for Lila beyond routine, just-turned-30 angst. It’s relatable enough, but doesn’t quite live up to the expectations introduced in the first act.
– Erin Keane, WFPL
The playwright’s juxtaposition of forms, along with the inclusion of a quasi-religious service, called to mind for me the work of Avidon’s contemporary, Young Jean Lee. Yet there’s really nothing in the way of dramatic conflict, and at least in this premiere production, helmed by rising director Lila Neugebauer, the parts seem too disparate to convey Avidon’s intent. … [T]he project as a whole feels off-puttingly academic.
– Kris Vire, TimeOut Chicago
The bottom line on “O Guru” is that while it might not be a profound work, it’s unfailingly charming, entertaining, and creative. And that, to quote a famous song lyric, “is all right with me.”
– Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX