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LA Theater Review

Cave Quest

Padma (Kim Miyori) and Justin (West Liang) want something very badly. Justin, a bouncy computer-game designer, is looking for the main chance: a video game that will make his fortune, ensure his place in the game business, and bring internal peace to millions for the total price of $49.99. Padma, an attractive young Buddhist priest, has lived alone in an ice cave high in the Himalayas for three years, talking to no one—no contact with her family in Fresno in particular and the world in general. Her goal is divinity or at least personal contact with it. She eats lightly, existing mainly on tea and rice. When Justin comes crashing into this haven of nowhere with his worldly and commercial proposition, we have a definition of the unity of opposites. Justin’s offer, accompanied by a gift-wrapped box of Raisinettes, makes for a ludicrous and highly amusing conjunction of profit and priesthood but charmingly serves as the foundation of a breakthrough and a learning experience for both characters. Justin’s persistence and Padma’s resistance meet somewhere between his crude sales pitch and her levitation. There’s more to both personal stories than meets the eye, and while it takes plenty of chutzpah (Justin) and superb control (Padma) before the inevitable breakthrough, Les Thomas’ world premiere play is amusing and even tenuously enlightening.

Diane Rodriguez’s direction is enhancing yet controlled, allowing both performances to be interesting while maintaining excellent contact with the main theme—which is enlightenment of a kind and, of course, justifiable excuse for its rather lightweight but fun philosophy. John Iacovelli’s terrific ice cave is the pièce de résistance, with great snowstorm sound swirling around the mountain, by John Zalewski, and intricate lighting, by Christopher Kuhl.

Presented by East West Players at the David Henry Hwang Theatre, Union Center for the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St., L.A. Feb. 17–March 14. Wed.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (213) 625-7000.

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