‘Guards’ Blends Humor, Horror at Woolly Mammoth in Penn Quarter

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company‘s 2015-16 season is already halfway over, but the next few months feature dynamic works guaranteed to end the season on a high note.

Among the highlights is “Guards at the Taj,” Rajiv Joseph’s award-winning play that runs through the end of February. Blending comedy and tragedy, the play has been hailed by reviewers around the country.

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Guards at the Taj, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co.

Keep the kids at home: Woolly Mammoth recommends “Taj” for viewers aged 16 and up, as the show contains some risqué situations and language. (Image via Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company)

In India in 1648, two imperial guards are standing watch over the soon to be unveiled Taj Mahal. Humayun (Ethan Hova) is a rule-follower out to prove himself to his father, while Babur (Kenneth De Abrew) is an imaginative dreamer. The two are an unlikely pairing, in the tradition of Abbott and Costello, and banter back and forth throughout the first act.

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Things take a dark turn when Babur convinces Humayun to look at the Taj Mahal, the most beautiful building in the world, and the two are dazzled by its brilliance. In order to protect the Taj, they have to carry out a gruesome command that changes the way they see each other and themselves.

A horrifying meditation on the cost of beauty and the human toll of progress, the questions posed by “Guards” are universal to human history. The high cost of moving civilization forward has most often been paid by those on the bottom rungs of society, and here we see two such people grappling with morality, obedience and friendship.

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As with all Woolly shows, “Guards” is accompanied by a range of free events throughout the month, including a lecture on the myths and history of D.C.

Tickets for “Guards at the Taj” start at $35 and are available at Woolly’s website. The show runs through the 28th.

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Bridey Heing

Bridey Heing is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C., and a staff writer at Hello Giggles. You can view more of her work here.

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