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Yogi-A-Go-Go

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According to Maria E. Jenson's program bio, she intended to write a satire about the Westside yoga community, populated by the power elite trying to find peace, serenity, and spiritual enlightenment while fighting for parking, letting cellphones jingle, and getting distracted by spandex-clad hardbodies. What Jenson ended up with was a weak comedy that pokes fun at this local subculture but does so with a flimsy script that substitutes caricatures for characters, ignores its own setups, and tends to lose focus.

The four students who arrive for class at the One Mind Yoga Center are disparate indeed: Hecky (Fred Griffith) is an ex-Marine from Texas who's been sentenced to yoga classes for anger management; Cicada (Tanya Luckerath) is a ditzy blonde yoga-bunny who can turn her body into pretzel-like configurations; Camilla (Libby Bideau) is a pregnant, self-absorbed film star who also sees a therapist and a psychic; and Roger (Jon Emm) is an abrasive, Viagra-popping, TV exec nervously awaiting every vibration of the cellphone he keeps in his crotch, as he waits to hear if his latest sitcom will be picked up.

The show covers three classes in three days, each led by different substitute teachers who personify three elements necessary to get the most out of the physical and spiritual practices of yoga--discipline, love, and freedom. Spike-heeled, short-skirted Sam (Juliana Robinson) literally whips her students into submission, while soulful Dionne (Suzanne Moran) prefers a more tenderhearted approach. And Nicky (Robert Weiermair) gets his students to relax and have fun by channeling Richard Simmons playing the beatnik philosopher from Sweet Charity's psychedelic anthem, "The Rhythm of Life."

But Jenson's script appears to have taken the kitchen-sink approach. Everything got thrown in, and not much was taken out or adjusted, including the things that don't make sense: a character exiting through a door established as locked, a cellphone magically doubling as a remote for the boombox, an assistant named Sprig (Mills Pierre, in silver shoes and body glitter) who goes into lengthy explanations about why he doesn't study at One Mind and then stays to participate in the final clownish class led by Nicky, and so on. The writer is not always the best choice to direct his or her own show. There's a reason why distance is necessary.

There are points made in Jenson's script about this struggle for spiritual balance in the plastic world of La-La Land, but they're frequently lost in sloppy writing and over-the-top gimmicks, like jungle sounds outside the door. She seems to have the love and freedom parts down. Now she needs to work on the discipline. Namaste.

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