'Eden' depicts original life

The timeless nature of the relationship between the sexes is the subject of "Twain's Eden," a play that opened last night at Baker University's Rice Hall.

The play is billed as "a comedy based on the writings of Mark Twain" and was adapted for Heart of America Performing Arts by HAPA directors Jeff McLaughlin and Lori Lee Triplett.

The show takes place "In the beginning..." in the Garden of Eden and opens with the dawn of humanity. As Adam and Eve, Lucian Connole and Emily Trimmell fuss and fidget their way around one another, trying to find a way to peacefully coexist.

Eve marvels at the stars and moon and all the other natural wonders of the new world, while Adam admires them only for their practicality. But their curiosity about the world around them is dwarfed by their curiosity about one another. Eve says she has "more curiosity about man than any of the other reptiles." She struggles to get Adam to speak at all, and Adam can't understand why she can't stop talking.

At nearly two hours, the show is decently paced, but the frequent blackouts become tiresome. The joy of the play comes in watching Adam and Eve discover their world, but the show loses steam midway through the second act once Eve eats the apple and gains the fruits of knowledge.

Both characters spend much of the play dressed in simple white shirts and pants. Director Tripplet has her characters roam about the set inquisitively, each investigating their new world (and each other) in his or her own way. McLaughlin's set design for the Garden of Eden emphasizes the characters' strong relationship with nature, as they lie in the grass or sit beneath either of the two massive trees framing the scenery.

The play consists almost entirely of monologues, interspersed with brief dialogue. The actors handle their roles with aplomb, and that confidence is necessary to pull of an effort this word-heavy.

But the real star of this show is Mark Twain. The writer's dry wit is present throughout, but so is his sentimentality, as in the end of the play when Eve ponders why she loves Adam.

It's the original battle of the sexes.

"Twain's Eden" will run at 7:30 p.m. today and tomorrow and at 3 p.m. Sunday at Baker University's Rice Hall.

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