offoffoff theater



Site links
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
    Search the site:

    Theater section
  • Theater main page
  • Theater archive
  • Theater links

    Current theater

  • Fall Briefs
  • Nick


    Complete archive, 1999-present

    2008-2009 reviews:
  • Anaïs Nin Goes To Hell
  • beast: a parable
  • Blanche Survives Katrina in a FEMA Trailer Named Desire
  • Blasted
  • Buffalo Gal
  • China: The Whole Enchilada
  • The Corn Maiden
  • Crawl, Fade to White
  • Doruntine
  • Extraordinary Rendition
  • The First Breeze of Summer
  • Fringe Festival 2008
  • Fringe Festival favorites
  • The Glass Cage
  • Hair
  • Hidden Fees* (A Play About Money)
  • Jailbait
  • King of Shadows
  • The Longest Running Joke of the Twentieth Century
  • Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising
  • Macbeth
  • The Master Builder
  • Missa Solemnis, or The Play About Henry
  • Mourn the Living Hector
  • A Nasty Story
  • Nowadays
  • the october crisis (to laura)
  • Oresteia
  • Other Bodies
  • Prayer
  • Psalms of a Questionable Nature
  • Raised by Lesbians
  • Reasonable Doubt
  • Sleepwalk With Me
  • Small Craft Warnings
  • Something Weird . . . in the Red Room
  • Soul Samurai
  • The Sound of One Hanna Clapping
  • Southern Promises
  • The Third from the Left
  • Twelfth Night
  • Voices from Guantánamo
  • The Wendigo
  • Zombie


    Impossible Safari

    Kenya dig it?

    Rick Gray's one-man memoir "Impossible Safari" takes him to Kenya with the Peace Corps for an uplifting experience involving lust, mutilation and imprisonment.


    Here is the baggage Rick Gray took along to Africa:

    Written and performed by: Rick Gray.
    Directed by: Colin Campbell.
  • White middle-class anxieties.
  • Excessive amounts of acting class.
  • Decades of Catholic guilt. (Kennedy was killed the day after he was born, and his mother later told him it had been hard to get help in the hospital, he recalls, adding: "It had the sound of an excuse, I thought.")
  • An unresolved relationship with his actress girlfriend.
  • A cryptic passage read randomly from the Bible

    In "The Impossible Safari," Gray recounts his two-year Peace Corps stint in Kenya. Whether he achieved the enlightenment he sought there, I'm still uncertain, but he did bring back some striking observations about both Africans and Americans. Conceptually, the show resembles Spalding Gray's "Swimming to Cambodia" — with our protagonist sharing his funny, poignant and even embarrassing experiences in an unfamiliar environment, and looking for insights into himself as a person and a displaced American. But Rick Gray has none of Spalding Gray's New Age/New York neurotic loopiness — in fact, he seems very regular by comparison — yet, even this is something he's trying to overcome. He seems certain that Africa will change him.

  • Impossible Safari  
    When he gets to Africa, he finds it surprisingly easy to cast off his American preconceptions and embrace what he finds there. "For the first time I began to see value in my suburban New Jersey upbringing — it was so easy to chuck," he explains. He visits holy people, dances with warriors, stares deeply into the eyes of the local women, chews stimulant herbs and gets thrown in jail — all experiences that come off as both plausible and meaningful.

    And he is surprised at the lack of acknowledgement of his race, which would be considered such an obvious, defining fact in America. "You are not white," he seems to hear Africans telling him in his most ecstatic moments, "and we are not black." This vibe, coupled with some of his most extreme experiences which I won't reveal here, seems to give him the transcendence that he went looking for. While at the beginning he saw everyone's actions, including his own, as some kind of performance that he's learned about in acting class, by the end, he seems to have learned to look for the genuine humanity in the life and people around him. And we in the audience get, if not transcendence, at least a fun and fascinating, vicarious immersion in a place and life totally different from ours.

    JANUARY 25, 2000

    Post a comment on "Impossible Safari"