There are an estimated 500 million practicing Buddhists in the world today, one of whom is Evan Brenner, the creator and performer of this one-man play about the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha. Drawing on material from the Sutras, the sacred Buddhists texts, Brenner weaves a simple yet engaging narrative that tells of the Buddha's early life of luxury and wealth in India; his chance encounter with suffering and subsequent disillusionment with the world; and his fateful decision to renounce his birthright and trod the difficult path of salvation to find a solution to the pain and misery of human existence, which at the age of 35 culminated in his attaining enlightenment, or nirvana. Despite the esoteric subject matter, none of this is difficult to understand. Brenner touches on the faith's basic concepts while sidestepping the dense thicket of theory and philosophy. His conversational style, in concert with an unpretentious script and good direction by John Reilly, makes this an entertaining and, yes, enlightening 90 minutes. Jaeger Smith and Sheela Bringi provide superb musical accompaniment on the tabla and flute. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; also Sun. March 4, 3 p.m.; thru March 4. (800) 838-3006,

Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 25, 3 p.m.; Sat., March 3, 3 p.m.; Sun., March 4, 3 p.m.; Thu., March 8, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., March 11, 3 p.m.; Thu., March 15, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., March 18, 3 p.m.; Fri., March 30, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., March 31, 3 p.m.; Sun., April 1, 3 p.m. Starts: Feb. 10. Continues through March 18, 2012

LA Weekly