Unemployed Elephants Review – Burma in Burbank

Marshall McCabe and Brea Bee in UNEMPLOYED ELEPHANTS - Photo by Tim Sullens

Are you in the mood for plump, bored elephants? Then this is probably not the play for you. UNEMPLOYED ELEPHANTS happens to be about two people who can’t seem to tell truth from lies. It’s true that, when the government of Myanmar decided to prohibit logging of teak, their elephant work force was suddenly out of a job. But that seems to be it for elephants in this clever, very funny tale of two Americans out to see the world.

Brea Bee and Marshall McCabe – Photo by Tim Sullens

Prolific playwright Wendy Graf uses the lightest touch to explore the slowly unfolding relationship between Jane (Brea Bee), a bristly porcupine of a lady, and Alex (Marshall McCabe), a man on a mysterious mission. These two lonely singles meet in an airport on their way to Myanmar, and fate sets their travels in motion. Set against the exotic backdrop of today’s Burma, UNEMPLOYED ELEPHANTS is a romantic frolic for these two. Why exactly are Jane and Alex traveling to far-off Myanmar? Therein lies the intriguing tale. Is Jane on her way to this distant destination because she was the lucky recipient of a trip won by a relative? Is Alex on his way to Southeast Asia to find his long-lost sister, who may have become a Buddhist nun? Or might there be other secrets going on here?

Marshall McCabe and Brea Bee – Photo by Tim Sullens

UNEMPLOYED ELEPHANTS trail behind this hilarious couple as they slowly peel away layers of gentle deception while exploring the sights of a foreign land. Director Maria Gobetti helms this production with just the right sizzle to match the heat of summer in Myanmar. Not only does Wendy Graf pen a charming story of love, loss, and new love, but she also provides stunning photo backdrops from her own trip to Burma a few years ago. Evan A. Bartoletti’s set design feels appropriately tropical, with Meagan Evers’ costumes, Nick Santiago’s projection designs, and Noah Andrade’s sound adding to the fun.

Marshall McCabe and Brea Bee – Photo by Tim Sullens

And let’s not forget the two actors who make Jane and Alex come alive – happily displaying a chemistry consistent with Graf’s passionate love story that almost doesn’t happen. UNEMPLOYED ELEPHANTS manages to join romance, laughs, and far-flung fantasies into a potpourri of chuckles. But let’s not forget the serious side of this journey. Although the play is set in 2015, two years before the ethnic cleansing of the country’s indigenous Rohingya, it does briefly touch on the beginnings of the tragedy. You political activists might like to take a peek. This is a must-see production for a dating couple, but it will also charm its way into even the stoniest of hearts as it craftily sneaks up on you.

Marshall McCabe and Brea Bee at the After Party – Photo by Elaine L. Mura

UNEMPLOYED ELEPHANTS runs through April 15, 2018, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 4 p.m. on Sundays. The Little Victory Theatre is located at 33324 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505. Tickets ranged from $24 to $34. For information and reservations, call 818-841-5422 or go online.

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