A Perfect Ganesh is a play written by Terrance McNally which premiered Off-Broadway in 1993. The play follows the life of two very rich, middle-aged women, Margaret Civil and Katherine Brynne, who travel to India as they struggle with the concept of inner peace.
On their journey for inner peace, two middle-aged friends from Connecticut, Katherine Brynne and Margaret Civil travel to India instead of to their more usual Caribbean vacation spots. They have chosen India as a way of healing from the deaths of their sons. While there, they meet a Hindu god, Ganesha, meaning "wisdom." This Ganesha happens to be their tour guide. However, Ganesha is not just one person, but is able to change form. With Ganesha as their tour guide, their journey takes many twists and turns. In one such twist, Katherine is convinced that she is to kiss a leper. However, this is not so. She learns a valuable lesson from meeting this leper. Instead of kissing him as she thought she needed to, she gave him money.
A Perfect Ganesh opened Off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club on June 4, 1993 and closed on September 19, 1993 after 123 performances. Directed by John Tillinger, the cast featured Frances Sternhagen as Margaret, Zoe Caldwell as Katherine, Fisher Stevens as The Man and Dominic Cuskern as Ganesha.
In 2009 the Belgian theatercompany JudasTheaterproducties made a musical version of the play.
The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1994.
A Perfect Ganesh finds comic relief in the fact that Katherine and Margaret are two very American women in a different country.
The Back Stage reviewer noted that McNally "...continues to explore questions of faith and love in a chaotic world... With his newest work, the author moves into deeper waters of spirituality."
Frank Rich, in his review of the original Off-Broadway production for The New York Times, wrote: "The catharsis that brings the long journey of 'A Perfect Ganesh' to an end seems imposed by the author (through his cheerful deus ex machina, Ganesha), not earned, just as many of the incidents leading up to it are schematic. With death everywhere, Mr. McNally cannot be blamed for fighting against helplessness and hopelessness by searching for faith."
Paulanne Simmons, in her CurtainUp review of a 2008 Off-Broadway production by WorkShop Theater Company wrote: "The play has many wonderful moments. The interaction between the two women, at one moment catty the next comforting, both sets them apart and strikes a familiar chord with anyone who has ever participated in or observed female bonding." David Gordon, reviewing for the nytheatre of the 2008 WorkShop Theater Company production wrote: "McNally certainly has a way with words and captures the essence of these women as if he's known them his entire life. Yet, despite the Pulitzer nomination, I don't think Ganesh is the best play in his canon. The play is overwrought and overlong; most of the scenes in the second act end in such a way that you feel they can be a satisfying closer to the play, yet it just keeps going... 'A Perfect Ganesh', is certainly a bit of McNally's response to the AIDS crisis."
The reviewer of a Chicago production at Northlight Theatre in the Josephine Louis Theatre of Northwestern University wrote: "But for all the bright lines and smart talk, when he reaches for profundity, all he can come up with, at best, is sentimentality. The laughter in his plays is strong, but the tears are all too predictable and the emotions are all too weak."