Thursday, March 30, 2017

Adam & Evie (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

In our age, the great myth of our daily lives has become one of vast longing.  We judge ourselves based on this.  To be honest, it can bring enormous pain, deep humiliation, frustration and feelings of failure for years on end.  Sounds horrific.  Yet the promise and (not coincidentally) truth remains it holds promise of joy, companionship, a thousand thousand  pleasures great and small, as well as a surcease from loneliness. 

The love story. More even than a yen to believe in God, our desire for Love permeates this society.  Such proves the focus of Charles L. Mee’s Adam & Evie, whose world premiere runs at the City Garage.

Credit:  Paul Rubenstein
More or less at this point in many reviews—certainly in a lot of mine—comes a description of the plot.  Given the style of this work, however, that is problematical.  How not?  The play doesn’t really have a single plot, but dozens. No overall story save the idea of one, the love story.  As a piece of theatre it much more resembles Bach rearranging endless variations on a theme rather than any kind of an overriding arc. Boy meets girl.  Woman meets man.  Woman meets woman.  Man meets man.  Couples meet and connect.  Sometimes fall apart.  Other times they look back upon the details of their lives together.  Individuals yearn for what they once had, believe they could have had, maybe regret what they did.  Which doesn’t really give a real taste of the show, so let me try again.

Love at first sight, or something similar.  A young Adam (Landon Beatty) and Evie (Lindsay Plake) experience this under the fond gaze of an Older Adam (Tom Laskey) and Older Evie (Sandy Mansson).  Same people?  Maybe.  Seems possible, or perhaps just a kind of cosmic coincidence.  That the older couple rise from their table to sing and do a tap dance gives but one of many clues we aren’t quite in the world we know.

Credit:  Paul Rubenstein
Or not the world we know when awake.  I call performances like this “Theatre of Dreams” simply because that is how it feels.  Rather than complain about the lack of linear logic, seems best (certainly more enjoyable) to accept the play as following dream logic.

So someone comes on with the head of a chicken (Bo Roberts).  Or a ballet dancer (Megan Kim) enters to dance counterpoint to a scene.

Fine.  Go with it.  As we would with a dream.  And understanding, if it comes, will follow the same as with a dream—not least simply via the experience.

Director Frederique Michel seems skilled with such material.  Quite apart from previous shows she’s directed, this one gels in that odd way that even extremely divergent material can when everyone shows themselves on the same page with approximately the same skill level. So members of an ersatz chorus periodically gather on either side of the stage to sing tunes, most quite recognizable if altered. Again, fine.  It fits.  It feels right, whole even.  Like a couple when it all clicks.  Clowns (Kat Johnston, Trace Taylor, Jeffrey Garner) seem right at home with the Mad Opera Singer (Yukiko Hadena) as well as Romeo (David E. Frank) and Juliet.  Yes, almost everyone plays multiple roles—just as nearly everyone sooner or later ends up paired however briefly with nearly the entire other member of cast.

Credit:  Paul Rubenstein
The Adams and Evies remain steady, though. Pretty much.  To be honest the entire ensemble gathers to quickly, very humorously re-tell the tale of the Greek Tantalus—a sprawling story of deep tragedy treated (briefly) as something of a farce.

Seems appropriate.

But here’s the truth.  The most powerful moment in the whole work for me (it is ninety minutes sans any intermission) came fairly early.  Young Adam and Evie pick up these two wooden noise makers, the kind you strum one part against another. The “noise” sounds very much like the distant croak of a frog. Or maybe that was because the noise makers looked like frogs.  But we seemed outdoors.  Another couple were having a scene downstage while young Adam and Evie simple wandered a bit, making noise at one another. I cannot even say they were flirting. Felt more like the savoring of each others’ company, in simple unadorned happiness.

Which seems the best of love, really.  But your mileage may vary.  Hope so.

Adam & Evie plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm (pay-what-you-can at the door) until April 30, 2017 at the City Garage, building T1, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica CA 90404.

No comments: