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On Theater: Postures and comedy collide in ‘Yoga Play’

Yoga Play in Laguna
Ayelet Firstenberg, Bobak Bakhtiari and Ryan Morales star in the Laguna Playhouse production of Dipika Guha’s “Yoga Play,” directed by Bill English, playing in Laguna Beach through Oct. 13.
(Jessica Palopoli / San Francisco Playhouse)

Eastern mysticism and Western capitalism make strange bedfellows, yet they’re tucked in together quite nicely in “Yoga Play,” currently entertaining audiences at the Laguna Playhouse.

Dipika Guha’s infectious new comedy, imported from the San Francisco Playhouse, focuses on executives of a Southern California clothing emporium striving to locate an Indian spokesman for their new line of yoga garments.

When they finally find one — and it turns out he’s a Caucasian man whose roots are in Santa Monica — they’re up that well-known body of water without probable means of navigation.

Unless, that is, they can enlist an Indian American exec named Raj (Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari) to push a “plus size” design of their yoga pants.

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Yoga Play in Laguna
Ayelet Firstenberg, Susi Damilano and Ryan Morales star in the Laguna Playhouse production of “Yoga Play” by Dipika Guha, directed by Bill English and now playing at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach.
(Jessica Palopoli / San Francisco Playhouse)

Director Bill English keeps the pace brisk, bordering on farcical, once the rather tedious opening segment has transpired. In this first scene, three execs of the clothier chat with the company (make that “family”) co-founder (Joe Estlack) shown only on a video screen scarfing munchies and mourning his late partner.

Top marks in the six-member cast are earned by Susi Damilano as Joan, the firm’s hard-driving CEO who thinks on her feet and hatches the risky business venture. Her comedic timing appears effortless, and she’s well versed in the delivery of punch lines.

Ryan Morales is effective playing an exec of Chinese heritage yearning for a green card. And Bakhtiari is a scream as the executive taking one for the team.

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Ayelet Firstenberg energizes the stage playing a collection of characters, most notably a flinty yoga instructor with an elusive first name.

Nina Ball’s colorful, adaptable setting works splendidly for this multi-location production. It’s augmented by Mike Billings’ brightly hued lighting effects and Rachael Heiman’s attractive costumes.

“Yoga Play” is that welcome commodity, a fresh new comedy with a sharp cultural bite that may be educational as well as entertaining. It’s a well-polished romp at the Laguna Playhouse.

IF YOU GO

What: “Yoga Play”

Where: Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

When: Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 1 and 5:30 p.m. until Oct. 13

Cost: $60 to $85

Information: (949) 497-2787; lagunaplayhouse.com

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