<i>Adam and Evie</i>

Paul Rubenstein


Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through April 24 2017

Location Info:

City Garage at Bergamot Station Arts Center
2525 Michigan Ave.
Santa Monica, CA  90404
While I’m not familiar with all — or even most — of Charles Mee’s work, it’s a safe bet that Adam and Evie, directed by Frédérique Michel at City Garage, is one of his gentler, sweeter plays. For starters, it’s devoid of either filicide (the murder of a child by a parent) or the ironic commentary on empire, both of which are prominent in Mee’s Iphigenia (staged at City Garage under Michel’s direction in 2006). Nor is there much in this latest work about gender politics or male patriarchy and its abuses — themes found in Iphigenia as well as the playwright’s Agamemnon (City Garage in 2006) or Big Love (Pacific Resident’s Theater in 2002).

By contrast, Adam and Evie is a celebration of love and the beauty of lasting relationships. It’s a romantic piece and, Mee’s eloquence notwithstanding, a sentimental one (not that sentiment is always a bad thing).

The play begins with an encounter between the title characters, Adam (Landon Beatty) and Evie (Lindsay Plake), two young people who meet in a café. Adam is immediately smitten, and says so, proposing marriage and a lifetime of blissful cohabitation. The less impulsive Evie demurs, but eventually agrees to a cup of coffee. We know the marriage takes place and that it’s a lasting one because the young couple are observed (and their dialogue overlapped) by an elderly pair (Tom Laskey and Sandy Mansson) seated opposite, who look happy and appear long-lasting intimates. We surmise they are Adam and Evie in their golden years.

The scene ends, followed by a sequence of others that portray people in a variety of relationships: some tentative, some tempestuous, some successful, others not. Michel stages some of them as a straightforward dialogue between two people; in other places, actors dance ballet (Megan Kim), sing opera (Yukiko Hadena) or a familiar love song (Trace Taylor), or appear cracking a whip or costumed as a chicken or a clown. In the tradition of this company, one performer at one point enters nude, and gazes up at a slide of a painting of a nude woman by Edward Hopper. The videography is made up of slides of Hopper’s paintings, all of which speak beautifully and effectively to life lived in shadow and deep longing. They are an ideal match for Mee’s text.

Not so the performances however, which for some inexplicable reason are stylized to the point of banality. Passionate declarations of love and profound remarks on the tenuousness of our lives are all delivered, across the board, with a lack of affect. This is either a directorial choice or speaks to a lack of skill among the ensemble or both. It’s a puzzlement why one would stage a play about people’s yearnings and have them speak in such an indifferent way.
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