THE STORY: The pilgrimage tradition is turned on its head when two outwardly unremarkable, middle-aged lady friends throw themselves into a rousing tour of India, each one having her own secret dreams of what the fabled land of intoxicating opposites will do for the suffering she hides within. Margaret Civil, an uptight example of WASP prerogative, has just discovered a lump in her breast but hasn’t told her friend. The more theatrical and adventurous Katharine seeks a respite from the haunting of her son, Walter, and even thinks of kissing the leprous hordes of Bombay to atone for the way she rejected him and maybe, she thinks, contributed to the gay-bashing in which he died. Faced with the women’s despair, who but the golden elephant god could intervene? Fluid in his power to assume any guise, at peace with all things, Ganesha is the spiritual center around which the play spins itself, drawing upon the tragic and the comic, the beautiful and the deplorable, until a breathtaking release arrives for both women at his hands.
A quest for meaning in their lives leads two middle-aged women on a journey through India and through painful memories before returning home—with and without answers. “…the compassion that pervades the work, the juxtapositions of the horrible and the ethereal and the bursts of raucous humor are highly reminiscent of such [Tennessee] Williams dramas as The Night of the Iguana and Suddenly Last Summer.” —NY Times. “…clearly McNally’s most important work to date. It is absorbing, moving, funny and, most of all, life-assertive, a play that defines its times while addressing its concerns.” —NY Post.