“Traveling Papers” has to be among the rarest of theater events — a play based on travel writing — and among the easiest and most fun trips I’ve ever taken. I am pleased to report that it is a very entertaining play and, for inveterate travelers, literary buffs and even armchair travelers, not to be missed in its limited Off-Broadway run in New York.
Utilizing a mixture of quotes about travel from writers and poets as diverse as St. Augustine, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens and Robert Frost, mingled with longer dramatic vignettes from the work of W. Somerset Maugham, Edna Ferber, Anthony Bourdain, Edith Wharton and others, this theatrical evening is a tapestry of thoughtful insights, humorous cultural clashes, and personal experiences while traveling.
All are woven together into a 90-minute (intermission-free) delight, delivered skillfully by eight diverse and talented actors on a minimal stage set created with antique luggage.
We especially enjoyed a humorous vignette by Edna Ferber, whose work we normally associate with the Midwest. She writes a thoroughly amusing piece about Mary Gowd, a British woman living in Rome, working as a guide, who meets and guides an American family with a gorgeous young daughter. The daughter is set upon and charmed by a rascal of an Italian soldier who woos her with an eye to the family fortune. Ms. Gowd, based on her own past with such a man, intervenes and saves the young girl (and her family) from a disastrous outcome.
It’s just one of many fiction or non-fiction travel tales brought to life onstage, some known and others unearthed with love by the passionate travel bugs who created this delightful piece, Barbara Bosch and Martin Tackel.
Our favorite quote, and one widely quoted, is from St. Augustine: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I only wish I could remember them all so I could reuse them, too.
Your RTW Planning Details
Hurry to reserve a first class seat for this around-the-world-in-two-hours event. “Traveling Papers” runs only 15 performances from June 3-20, 2015 on the following schedule: Wednesday-Saturday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm. (Exceptions: there are no performances on Sunday, June 7 at 3pm or Saturday, June 13 at 2pm.) Tickets are $17 (+fees) and can be purchased by visiting Telecharge.com or by calling 212/239-6200.
Pack lightly for a night at the Lion Theatre, Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues. And if you are out of town during those dates, let’s hope they take it on the road so you can enjoy the trip as much as I did.
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