Jeff Greenwald has a mantra when embarking on one of his many treks to far-flung global destinations: “May all of your travels make a fool of you.” In the return of this sublime 90-minute night of improvised storytelling, Oakland resident Greenwald, a best-selling travel writer, ponders the primal nature we take with us on journeys and the soulful adventures to be had when veering off a planned itinerary. His stories are different each night, and solely dependent on the spin of a beautiful wheel covered with hieroglyphics placed center stage. On the night I attended, the wheel stopped at “oracles,” “meals of misfortune,” and “magicians,” and rip-roaring tales were told with Nepal, Iran, and Northern India as their backdrops. While Greenwald often finds himself in dangerous or awkward situations (such as trying to smuggle an endangered snow leopard to safety in Katmandu), he has a deep knowledge of local religions and customs, which keeps this from being a clichéd evening about bumbling tourists in strange lands. While indeed improvised, these stories are beautifully formed and truly riveting. The legendary and neurotic New York monologist Spalding Gray always dreamed of moving to Northern California to become more of a wizened, worldly sage. If he had, he might have become the wonderful Jeff Greenwald.
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