VOL. 22 - NO. 11
MAR 19 - 26, 2017
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TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: The Marsh Berkeley Presents Hilarious One-Woman Performance: “Eat, Pray, Laugh!”

Feb 24, 2017
by Phil Zarri
In “Eat, Pray, Laugh!” - currently performing at The Marsh Berkeley (2120 Allston Way) through March 11, stand-up comedian Alicia Dattner takes audiences on a lighthearted, yet true-life journey across India in search of herself. This very entertaining theatrical monologue offers a look at Dattner’s overwhelming experiences traveling in India as she boldly leaves the safety of the familiar Bay Area for a three-month solo adventure.

Dattner takes the audience on this journey while seated in a simple chair, wearing traditional Indian slippers as her only stage prop. As is the norm for most productions at The Marsh, there is no set - just an occasional shifting of lights to help set the mood.

Along the way, Dattner encounters everything from seductive French yoga teachers to scary Indian toilets. She even pokes fun at some of her Western-minded irritations, including giggling gurus, and swarming mosquitoes the size of small ponies, bizarre traffic rules, and even Indianbathrooms – where’s the toilet paper and what’s with all the buckets?

Renowned musician, Mirabai Warkulwiz opens the show and sets the stage by joining Alicia in creating the tone for her in-India experience. Here, we learn of the ”Eats” of homemade chai and prasad (Indian sweets), which goes along with a splash of delicious kirtan music, thus creating the setting for a lot of laughter. But “Eat” really isn’t at the center of the show.

More to the point, Dattner focuses on her amusingly awkward interactions with various fellow travelers she meets. She explores the need for her surrender to spontaneity, even saying yes to impromptu adventures with strangers who invite her to take sudden side trips seemingly out of the blue.

While so many of Dattner’s anecdotes are really funny, more comical still is the self-awareness she shares with the audience offering tales of spiritual moments from getting too precious. Understanding that she needs to make certain changes in her life, Dattner is then quick to quip, “which I will do at some point.” Boy, does this sound familiar.

Ultimately, Dattner returns to the Bay Area, where she delights in bringing this epic show back home to the Bay where her heart remains. Unlike so many transformative travel stories, “Eat, Pray, Laugh!” isn’t so much about the story of Dattner’s trip to India, but rather it’s about what the journey brings out in her. As she tells her father, “I’m going to India to find out why I’m going to India!” The charm of this story lies in the fact that she’s fully aware from the outset that this is going to be just any old voyage, and therefore she knows not to take it, or herself, too seriously.

Running time for “Eat, Pray, Laugh!” is 95 minutes with no intermission. For tickets or more information please phone (415) 282-3055 or visit www.themarsh.org.

* * * * *

Photo caption: Comedian Alicia Dattner’s knack for self-deprecating humor takes center stage in her new solo show “Eat, Pray, Laugh!” which recounts a soul-searching trip to India.


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