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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Namaste Man at Intiman Theatre

Namaste Man
Andrew Weems
Andrew Weems' one-man, autobiographical show Namaste Man (Lost and Found in Kathmandu) is very likable. So likable I wanted to love it. But even with the guidance of (now Tony award-winning) director Bartlett Sher, it feels more like a workshop production that is only about two-thirds of a finished product.

Weems was the son of a U.S. Stated Department father, which meant a lot of adolescent travel and relocations to exotic locations, including Nepal where a great part of Namaste Man takes place. Weems is gifted at snapping into and out of accents and characters in a manner reminiscent of Robin Williams. It's just there are too many snaps in the show as it now stands and not enough quieter moments. For, amidst the funny sketches of nutty Nepali folks, attending school in foreign countries, dead on vocal impressions of the likes of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and others, Andrew's parents, particularly his mother, come into view in a warm, un-sentimentalized fashion. He lets us in on some touchingly funny moments like spending Christmas Eve singing carols with a group of fellow Americans amidst the sights, sounds and citizens of Nepal, and a tragic-comic reminiscence of his trial by fire as a young actor playing the son in a Nepal community theatre version of A Thousand Clowns. But such moments are too few, and then the frantic humor takes over, and inadvertently trivializes things. One gets the distinct feeling that usually spot-on director Sher—well on his way to becoming an NYC superstar thanks to the hugely honored South Pacific—might not have had the time to help Weems get Namaste Man all the way to the finish line. This may account for the erratic and sometimes draggy pacing of the show, which feels longer than the 95 minutes of its actual running time.

But I must emphasize that, despite my quibbles, I found the show an evening well spent. Andrew Weems is an actor who I think will find his greatest successes now that he is in the middle of his career. I hope he has many other plays to write because he has a gift for quirky, serio-comic dialogue. And I think Namaste Man will continue to evolve and grow. Seeing it now at Intiman is simply the theatrical equivalent of watching a promising television series in its first season. You like it and you look forward to seeing how it grows.

Namaste Man runs through June 22 at Intiman Playhouse, 201 Mercer Street at Seattle Center. For more information, visit www.intiman.org.


Photo: Chris Bennion



- David Edward Hughes



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