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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Stages' Searching for Eden


A week ago Amanda and I went to Stages Repertory Theatre to see their new and widely acclaimed production of Searching for Eden. The play is an adaptation of Mark Twain's The Diaries of Adam and Eve a look at what the two matriarchs would have been thinking about upon their first steps in the world.

I'm so glad that Amanda and I got to see this play together because above all this play is a love story. When I first heard that the play was about Adam and Eve I figured that it was about the nature of sin or perhaps a look at the creation story. Those elements are there, but it is much more about the two of them discovering each other than them discovering the world. Adam is, of course, first and we see him in his primitive nature. He loves his garden and rules over everything with efficiency and glee. He proclaims as often as it occurs to him that he "likes it here." Adam proclaims that he wouldn't change a thing. All the while, without him knowing it, things are changing. We meet Eve, who begins stirring the pot. First she must get used to her legs and movement as well as her surroundings. She realizes that she was not the first and therefore must be an improvement. This is a very modern view of the creation than the one that men have often touted, that since we were first that mean we are in charge. Eve's realization fits in better with the information age wisdom of .1 and .2-10, etc. Eve is simply the OS MAN version 2.0. And I have to agree. The new model is much more streamlined. This is what was going through my mind as she was offering this thought.

The play follows Adam and Eve's first meetings, their original reluctance toward each other, particularly Adam's, and their eventual love and fall from grace. The first act is wrought with humor and touching tenderness, as Eve persists with her importance to Adam, and even though he may not realize it, she needs him. When she does leave for a while Adam reluctantly admits that he misses her and that he does need her. Every part of the first act that takes place in the newly formed Garden of Eden is a reflection of the new life of a married coupled. Amanda and I chose to marry but it wasn't until we lived together that I realized that my life hadn't quite begun yet. I had to discover how to exist again after becoming comfortable in my own space. I had everything I wanted and where I wanted it and then I allowed a woman in to (as Eve puts it) "reinvent...relent...resolve...RENOVATE!" In the same way, Adam has to deal with the fact that this woman that seems like a nuisance exists to make him better. It isn't until she takes a little vacation that he is able to see this however. Likewise, Eve, who first saw Adam as a project to make-over has to admit that Adam has some brilliance and wisdom in him as well, while it may be in longer intervals. To Eve, inspiration came easy. While Adam was content naming everything by number (a monkey was number 42, a rose could be number 109, and a tree number 15) Eve attributed every item with a moniker based on it's look, smell and function. A bird became bird because it looked like a bird. Adam seemed like the right name for the only man in her life because it felt right. Somehow she discovered the kiss sans Adam, but when she is finally able to practice it on him, she says "it's a kiss." When Adam asks why, Eve answers, "Because it feels like a kiss." She has a point.

The second act of the play was somewhat less relatable to be but not any less fascinating and probably true. We see Adam and Eve now as a couple who has been married a very long time. Thousands of years in fact. Lucky for Adam and Eve their bodies have stayed true to form, not betrayed by the time that has most definitely pasted. The two love birds, now with high profile and busy jobs have finally taken time out to return for the first time to the Garden of Eden, which is now called simply the stylized, fast-paced sounding, "E." This act is slower as the two reveal the fears and insecurities that have come with age. The two original people now have seen much and not all of it was pleasant. They have regrets that sink so deep that they have not even spoken of them for a long time for fear that the words would force them to recognize truths that are too painful to remember or admit. They talk about their children, their jobs, what it was like in the beginning and what has been lost in aging. Adam and Eve are able to re-evaluate their past and present and remember what brought them together in the first place. Surprisingly enough, their love is not a victim of the process of elimination.

1 comment:

ML said...

Sounds very good. I'd like to see it. It also reminds me of the play that your dad was in back in college, "Adam and Eve" of the "Anthology". He was Adam and in many ways sounds a lot like what you saw except for the return to "E".
Good review.