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Review: Guards at the Taj at Woolly

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I’m still not sure how I felt about Guards at the Taj, the latest play at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Well, that’s untrue. I felt sleepy—jet lagged, more specifically, so much so that I continually nodded off during the 90-minute show.

The quirky dark-yet-funny play centers on two guards in 17th century India, who are guarding the creation of the Taj Mahal—however, they are forbidden to look upon it, or to speak, as per the custom of the royal guards.


As is historically accurate, the Mugal Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum to his recently deceased favorite wife, the Empress Mumtaz Mahal. It was said he wanted it to be “more beautiful than the world had ever seen” and that it took an estimated 20,000 workers to built the monument.

Much of the play centers on the dialogue between the two royal guards, and the narratives focus on two main themes: what inspires wonder and beauty, and the line between moral responsibility and duty. The second is what causes us awe an wonder.

The staging for the show was well-executed and the acting powerful—but for some reason it didn’t resonate with me as deeply as it should. Perhaps because Woolly’s shows are always a bit silly.

Guards at the Taj is playing at Woolly through February 28. While it wasn’t my favorite show at the theatre, it was an enjoyable way to spend a Friday night, with dinner and a show in Penn Quarter. I’ve not, to date, ever regretted the time I’ve spent in a seat at Woolly.

Tickets range between $20-$58 and are $20 for those under 30.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre
641 D St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 393-3939


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