Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of Civilization (all you can eat
It's a promising setupretelling a familiar story, attempting to "get it right this time," discovering that perfection is never possible and the creations have as much agency as the creatorand director Ben Cunis, a longtime member of the Synetic ensemble, has staged it engagingly. Cunis also wrote the script with his brother Peter; unlike many of the company's most eloquent performances, this one integrates dialogue with the extravagant physical expression for which Synetic is famous.
Cunis' staging begins with a fascinating image of creation, embodied by shrouded performers forming an amorphous blob on the stage, then spreading out and depicting the emergence of plants (legs shooting into the air), animals (advancing from lying flat to crouching, then standing), and ultimately the birth of Adam and Eve through a translucent sheet. From there, the story develops as Adam names the creatures of the garden and Eve tries to help.
Of course, the angel's desire to keep things simple is never going to happen. For one thing, a demon (Joseph Carlson) sneaks into the new Eden through a grate in the floor; for another, apples appear in the tree in defiance of logic, and no sooner does the angel take one away than another one appears. And that's before the appearance of Cain (Matthew Ward) and Abel (Jefferson Farber) in what appears to be a prison cell.
The thing about Synetic productions is that, even if the plot becomes hard to follow, the movement keeps the audience engaged. Daniel Pinha's set design is surprisingly sturdy; Andrew F. Griffin's lighting design bridges the everyday and fantastic worlds; and Clint Herring's original music and sound design adds another dimension to the theatrical illusion.