ADAM AND EVE IN THE GARDEN OF DELIGHTS, OR LOVEby Alejandro de la Costa
Directed by Mark-Brian Sonna
Stage Manager/AD – Adam Nick Hill
Set and Costume Design – Alejandro de la Costa
Lighting Design – Richard S. Blake
Props and Sound Design – Mark-Brian Sonna
JP Cano – Serpentem
Marbella Barreto – Eve
Conor O'Bryan Warren – Adam
Reviewed Performance: 6/8/2013
Reviewed by Charlie Bowles, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
So asks Mark-Brian Sonna with his latest production of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Delights, or Love. As Director Sonna knows this 2005 play by resident playwright, Alejandro de la Costa. He translated it from Spanish and directed its World Premiere in 2009. Now MBS Productions brings it back with the original Serpentem, JP Cano.
If there ever was a play that calls for an audience to suspend belief, as we often do with theater, it’s Adam and Eve in the Garden of Delights, or Love. Not just our belief of reality versus fantasy, but also lifelong beliefs we’ve been taught about “the creation.” In this story about Adam and Eve, the facts might just be more accurate. What if Adam woke up alone in the garden and started wondering, “Who am I?” “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” “And why is paradise so boring?!”
Of course, the Bible tells us God talked to Adam. But what if he didn’t? Would Adam develop a faith that something created him? And when Eve appeared, would he know what to do or how to act? Then there’s that serpent, only here his name is Serpentem and he’s actually a bi-sexual hunk who tempts both Eve and Adam.
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Delights, or Love is a surrealistic exploration about the creation story which touches on the substance of faith and doubt, marital fidelity, sex and what that means, especially when there’s only a man, a woman and a snake.
The set at the Stone Cottage Theatre was a bare floor with a small garden backdrop and a basket of fruit which was always full of apples, of course. Alejandro de la Costa’s design provided a hint of location and room to expand their garden universe. Richard Blake lit the set at various levels for dark and light, then lighter and even lighter as Adam discovered new levels of wonder. De la Costa’s costumes were even simpler than his set. Each actor wore pastel-colored shorts and shirt, all the easier to disrobe, which they did a lot.
Adam and Eve is an actor’s play. All the meaning was in de la Costa’s lines, as translated by Sonna. They were smart and funny and opened lots of doors for actors to explore how they might be delivered.
Adam was played by Conor O’Bryan Warren. He opened the show with the confusion and questioning Adam might have felt as he discovered himself and his new surroundings. Names for everything just popped out as he saw them, as he was pre-filled with knowledge and unending questions and language and rapid reasoning. Warren handled this exposition well, showing Adam’s confusion, followed by realization followed by more questions and doubt. The funniest discoveries were the parts of his body he found in his shorts as he came to terms with naming them and figuring out what they were used for. I kept wishing he would slow down a little and grapple with some really puzzling discoveries. However, that likely would have slowed the play and killed the comedy. His rapid-fire realizations and responses to their meanings and consequences were fun to watch, especially when Eve suddenly appeared. His innocence was palpable.
Eve appears one morning after Adam complains to his non-responsive God, and there before us was Marbella Barreto, a Spanish-speaking Eve trying to communicate with the whiter-than-white Adam who sounded like he came from the Garden of Omaha, Nebraska. Eva, as he named her, enters the Garden, as surprised about her existence and origin as Adam, and Baretto played her Spanish exposition fast and funny against Adam’s quick translations. This alone was hilarious but when they reached the all-important discovery of “differences” in their bodies and the play cycled quickly into a sexual fever, it all seemed quite innocent. Barreto showed a natural passion as a hot-bodied, hot-tempered Spanish woman with an attitude. She gave her Eva (later changed to Eve by Serpentem) a sense of power and equality to Adam, whom she named by the way. There was a very clear polarity in how she then transformed after going to the river to swim, a metaphor for baptism.
Baretto seemed very comfortable and natural in both her role and with the challenges of all the changes her character went through. She seemed to relish every moment of it. The audience relished her.
Of course, paradise just couldn’t last. Serpentem showed up just as Adam and Eva were getting the hang of things. In this role, JP Cano was perfectly passionate as he seduced both Adam and Eve, cunning as he got both to taste the apple, and manipulative as he played each against the other. Of course, Serpentem was mainly after getting Adam and Eve to forget God and just go with the flow. In this, Cano’s character was relentless, ever-pressing at every turn.
Cano, who’s “costume” was his nakedness and drawn artwork all over his body that looked like vines, was completely comfortable with nudity and with the se*ual encounters he had with both Eve and Adam. In this, his task was to never fully reveal his full nudity and so he had to resort to a little slight-of-hand to hide himself, reminiscent of Wilson and the fence on Tim Allen’s Home Improvement. Cano handled the moves with great deftness.
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Delights, or Love was just good clean fun! Well, “clean” in a perverted sorted of way. It was laugh out loud funny, a bit quirky, and unique in the way it perverted the creation story. It did not ridicule nor lambast or challenge original beliefs. It just told the story from a different perspective in a very simple and acceptable way. No great religious controversy here. No one need march here with signs and I doubt anyone will change their long-held beliefs. Just plain entertaining.
The Stone Cottage Theatre
at the Addison Conference and Theatre Centre
15650 Addison Road, Addison, Texas 75001
Plays through June 29th
PLEASE NOTE – For mature audiences only due to “sexual situations, general misbehavior, and nudity”.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Saturday June 15th at 2:00 pm
Tickets range from $18.00-$23.00. KERA members may receive 2 for one tixs, limit 4 total. You must provide you