Review: Players' Theatre's "The Creation of the World and Other Business"

In her director's note, Kristen Kephalas warns us: while Arthur Miller may have written The Creation of the World and Other Business as a comedy, there's not much funny about it. This, as it turns out, is true. The jokes that are present throughout the two acts are both sparse and somewhat simple, usually relying on one-liners and anachronisms that seek to appeal to a modern audience despite the antiquity of the play and it's setting. But even though this offbeat exploration of the Book of Genesis doesn't deliver in laughs, it instead leaves us with a tongue-in-cheek Biblical retelling that is enjoyable nonetheless. The plot revolves around the beginning of all beginnings, the birth of mankind, and who or what is responsible for the turmoil that follows.

 

The first act draws us in with it's lighthearted mood, and there is more humor to be found here than in the rest of the play. In this Garden of Eden, God is a swaggering deity with an abundance of ego (played excellently by the booming Frederic Rosenthal), while Adam (the refreshingly comical Alec MacMillan) is a simple creature that delights in his world through a mixture of child-like wonder and unquestioning devotion to his maker. At the introduction of Eve (Anna Queen, who later proves herself one of the most dynamic actors of the show), everything still seems set on the course of smooth sailing. Adam and Eve are perfectly happy in each other's company, and spend their hours swimming, playing handball, and frolicking around the Garden. But God has discovered a flaw in his creations, and it poses a big hiccup to his master plan: they're too innocent to carry out the carnal necessities of breeding the human race. 

Enter Lucifer, who in all his slinking, smirking glory doesn't quite fit the personification of pure evil that he is usually saddled with in other Biblical interpretations. Brought to life with a stand-out performance from the devilishly-charismatic Lucas Amato, the Lucifer of Arthur Miller's pen behaves more like a scheming, but well-intentioned crusader who is simply carrying out God's will by taking it into his own hands, rather than a cartoonishly evil villain who aims to ruin humanity- in fact, here, he aims to save it. As Lucifer's actions give new meaning to the phrase "the road to hell is paved by good intentions", God himself becomes a little less praiseworthy as his vanity and unwillingness to shoulder any responsibility for the fall of man are brought to light. Once the second act is in full swing, we see how this back-and-forth game of Who's To Blame culminates in tragedy for Adam, Eve and their sons Cain (the compelling Clay Walsh) and Abel (played sympathetically docile by Adam Almeida). In the end, it is the human pawns that pay the highest price.

Despite the weaknesses that critics have often pointed out about Arthur Miller's Creation, it remains a serio-comic play caught somewhere between a parody and a parable of morality, and the Players' Theatre succeeds in bringing this strange mixture to the stage with conviction. The story of God and Lucifer, Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel is by now very familiar to us; our perceptions of this tale are harder to challenge, but once the jokes disappear and the play reaches the emotional height of it's conclusion, it's easier to see these characters in a whole new light, with new answers to the time-old question: who should we blame for the mess we're in?

The Creation of the World and Other Business will be running from January 21 to January 31, with shows starting at 8:00 pm. The cost of tickets is $6 for students/seniors, $10 for adults; ticket reservations can be made by contacting [email protected]. For more information about this production, check out the Facebook event, and to learn more about the remainder of the Players' Theatre 2014-2015 season, you can visit their webpage

 

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