“A Perfect Ganesh” by Terrence McNally



A Perfect Ganesh is a play written by Terrence McNally in 1993. The play follows the life of two very rich, middle-aged women, Margaret Civil and Katherine Brynne, who struggle with the concept of inner peace.

Directed by Bart Murell.SagePtownTheater-half

Scenic Design by Mike Steers

Original Music by John Thomas

Starring McNeely Myers, Lynda Sturner, David Wallace and Bragan Thomas.

Dramatists Play Service Inc.
Originally produced by The Manhattan Theater Club June 27, 1993.


Theater Review by Ethan Stanislawski

Normally, flights of fancy in legitimate theater are a dangerous prospect. They can get too confusing or absurd for an audience to follow, and unless you tread carefully, your writing can end up seeming lazy. When you set the ground rules that Terrence McNally sets in A Perfect Ganesh, however, your opportunities for being fanciful are virtually limitless.

The overwhelming theme of A Perfect Ganesh is pantheism; the play emphasizes the interconnectedness of humans to each other and to the rest of the world, and how blind Westerners can often be to the lives and environments of even those closest to them. When, in the opening monologue, we meet Ganesha, the Hindu god who is “in your kiss” as well as “in your cancer,” we allow ourselves to see a whole, free-flowing unity in everything that happens in the next two hours. To criticize inconsistency in A Perfect Ganesh would just be bad karma.

To contrast Ganesha’s world to our own, McNally gives us perhaps the pinnacle (some would say lowpoint) of the Western sensibility—two wealthy ladies from Greenwich, Connecticut. Kitty and Margaret think India offers a respite from a lifetime of trips to the Caribbean. Soon, however, we learn of larger spiritual longings that plague these two. They have come to India to heal, both for emotional and physical purposes. Both have suffered tragedies that have caused irrevocable damage to their souls, and both get lost in their attempts to recover the good spirits that the women are too damaged to find again.

A Perfect Ganesh, which deals with homophobia quite prominently, was a Pulitzer finalist in 1994. It lost to Albee’s Three Tall Women, perhaps a safe pick after another gay-themed play, Angels in America, had won the Pulitzer the previous year. McNally would go on to win back-to-back Tonys for Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class. As a result, A Perfect Ganesh has slipped through the cracks.