Written by Daisy Foote
Directed by Elina de Santos
Presented by Rogue Machine
You may think you know very little about the country of Bhutan until you hear these three little words: gross national happiness. Ding. Perhaps now you recall the hullabaloo a few years ago of Bhutan setting the pace for this index of rating countries and their inhabitants by something other than (and much more than) what capitalism does for the human soul. Imagine that.
Imagine being the only smart, achievement-oriented member of a New Hampshire, barely-middle-class family that is content to drink beer and read tabloid magazines at the kitchen table. A lot of places would look better than where you are, and the faintest notion of going to Bhutan would be the rocket fuel that kept you going dreary day after dreary day.
Teenager Frances Conroy—so very well portrayed by newcomer Tara Windley—is the star of this sad little family but they don’t see much sparkle in her, mainly because they each have problems of their own to deal with. The patriarch has passed away so now everyone is struggling. Frances’ mother, played to a stressed out, smoldering perfection by Ann Colby Stocking, is doing well at work (and is everyone’s hope) until things fall apart. Frances’ older brother, Warren, is in that purgatory between boyhood and manhood and Marco Naggar convincingly portrays every ounce of it. Tracie Lockwood plays the ever-present aunt who is as helpful as she is hurtful, and Lockwood mixes her puns and pathos in delicate measure.
It’s not all doom and gloom in Bhutan, of course; playwright Daisy Foote is far too talented and clever for that. While the Conroy family may be in for more than their fair share of turmoil, they face it all with wit, love, stoicism, and a playfulness that keeps you rooting for them even when they’re misbehaving. Which they do in both small and large amounts.
While they may not ever qualify for a rating on the Gross National Happiness scale—in this country or Bhutan—the human condition is that we make our own prisons and our own happiness, no matter who or where we are.
Should you go to Bhutan this weekend? Absolutely. It’s a journey you won’t soon forget.
Make your ticket reservations by calling 855-585-5185 or online here.
Rogue Machine Theatre
5041 Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Now through November 20
Saturdays at 5 p.m.
Sundays at 7 p.m.
Mondays at 8 p.m.
Running time is about 90 minutes with no intermission
$25-30 General Admission