Dipika Guha’s Wit Blossoms into Love with “No Regrets”
by Kelly Mou & Barry David Horwitz
“Getting There” opens with Edith Piaf singing “Moi, je ne regrette rien”—“Me, I regret nothing.” As the all-female cast of five vogues to Piaf’s song, they slip us into the Parisian moment that all tourists seek.
French life has something new to offer two young and naïve US women. Their rendezvous with chic Parisian women builds an awareness of themselves. They are no longer alone. They can become themselves—maybe even “come out,” casting the dice for life.
Playwright Dipika Guha introduces us to the surprising trip of two American girls, evoked by dancing drapery, projected images, and intense word play. Director Nailah Harper-Malveaux’s choice to keep actors onstage observing other scenes encourages the women to command space. Even the scene changes are lyrical. The women boldly assert themselves despite usual cultural demands to disappear. We, too, feel liberated by this trip to a mythical Paris.
The incomparable Desiree Rogers brilliantly embodies Radha, a driven Uni Prof who is struggling to adjust to age and honors. She has won awards, and published papers, and is now in a loving marriage, but Radha yearns for new romance.
She is eager to explore, much to the dissatisfaction of her aging wife Anissa (stalwart Simone Bloch). Anissa struggles with illness while she senses Radha’s desire for change. Radha’s feelings show that you can love someone and want to leave them at the same time.
Guha makes space for these complicated, brilliant, and brave women. She opens portals to debates on innocence, age, and sexuality. Moving freely through time, she shows stories of two female couples of different ages; their witty dialogue embraces sisterhood, motherhood, and identity.
In this dreamlike fantasy, these women claim the space to learn and change, in a cross-cultural conflict, flashing back and forth in time. Messages saying “just yesterday” or “two weeks ago” appear on the flowing curtains, casting us comically adrift in time.
The two younger women, Julie and Kai, are opposites. The energetic, kind, and brave Julie (engaging Lauren Andrei Garcia) lights up the stage, gives freely of herself. With naive bravado, she befriends the mysterious Ira (seductive Laura Domingo). Julie learns patience from sophisticated Ira. And she faces the discomfort of being in love with her best friend Kai.
The gloomy Kai (quicksilver Leigh Marshall) flips her moods, creating complications. Kai is searching Paris for a lost mother with confused feelings. Wrapped in her thoughts at the grave of Jim Morrison, she wanders off. While Julie lives in the moment, Kai lives in her mind.
In Paris, these queer, straight, and questioning women face their hidden conflicts. Five women let down their defenses to break into a new world of awareness, sociability, and sisterhood. It’s a lovely, emotion-filled comedy well worth a second tour—to find Piaf and Paris, again.
“Getting There” by Dipika Guha, directed by Nailah Harper-Malveaux, production designed by Alexa Burrell, set designed by Deanna Zibello, costumes designed by Michelle Mulholland, scenes painted by Alan Huang, at New Conservatory Theatre Center, San Francisco. Info: nctcsf.org – to February 26, 2023.
Cast: Simone Bloch, Laura Domingo, Lauren Andrei Garcia, Leigh M. Marshall, and Desiree M. Rogers.
Banner photo: Simone Bloch & Desiree M. Rogers. Photos by Lois Tema