Children of Eden
Children of Eden
By Stephen Schwartz and John Cairo
Directed by Wade Hair
Starring Wyatt Glover, Robb Ross, and Krystal Gillette
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL
Sometimes you have to just say “damn the source material; let’s write a show that works!” That’s the motivation behind “Children of Eden,” a unique retelling of the tales of Adam and Eve and Noah. It’s packed with cool songs and great voices, but the books feels like the writer never sat through Sunday School. God, who we’ll euphemistically call “The Father” (Glover), swoops around creating planets and animals and Adam (Ross) and Eve (Gillette). He drops them in the Garden of Eden with one of those plot provoking rules – “Do NOT eat from the tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Adam is OK with this, and takes up taxonomy as his hobby. Eve considers the greater world: what’s above the water fall, what’s over the hill, and why shouldn’t humans have an innate knowledge of morality? The Snake (led by Rob DelMedico) plies her with even more questions, and eventually it’s too much – the whole wave-particle duality thing pushed her over the edge, and she takes the fatal bite. Evicted and lonely, Adam and Eve have their own sons Cain (John Gracey) and Abel (Heath Boyer). The boys ask the same questions as Eve did, and Adam deflects them just as The Father taught him. Any question he’s uncomfortable with gets the stock answer “Because God said so, and we’re not here to ask questions.” This attitude is surprisingly popular once you have kids of your own.
Despite anachronisms like Cain discovering Stonehenge already old and abandoned and The Father busting Noah for blowing schedule on the ark, this show is a joy for the singing and songwriting. Glover gets most of the good songs including “Let There Be”; he shares the best song of the show with Ross in “The Hardest Part of Love”. Ross was consistently strong throughout, with highlights like “Closer to Home” and the trio with Glover and Gillette “A World Without You.” Gillette in turn shined with “The Spark of Creation” and as the leader of the blow out number “Ain’t It Good.” A square box like Breakthough’s tiny space often gives the best acoustics, and tonight the unmiked voices filled the room without blasting, making it sound like we were all sitting in the middle of a Lutheran Choir.
As written, The Father never feels especially almighty or all knowing – he places his creations in a rule set they can never obey and abandons them when they fail. He demands obedience and worship but vague about acceptable sacrifice, and seems confused that in giving free will to humanity people don’t always chose the way he would. Adam and Noah mirror this, and those who question or seek or step outside of an ill defined box are abandoned. While almighty beings aren’t under any obligation to explain themselves writers are and I was often confuse by The Fathers actions and attitudes. Perhaps the invocation to “make man in his own image” was intended to mean “groping for answers and not always find them.” That’s as much philosophy as will fit in here, so just stick to the singing. It’s glorious.
For more information, please visit http://www.breakthroughtheatre.com