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Review of Adam & Eve by Tim Cook at the Hope Theatre

Adam and EveThe term ‘Adam and Eve’ took a bit of a battering around the time I attended university: certain people vehemently against marriages for same-sex couples would insist, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” But neither politics (at least not of the parliamentary kind) nor organised religion form a part of proceedings in this one-act play, which enjoyed an all-too-brief run at the Jack Studio Theatre in 2017. I am pleased it is getting a longer run at the Hope Theatre less than a year later.

A different performance space and some changes to cast and creatives has, perhaps inevitably, led to a rethink in staging and direction. There’s more of a ‘black box’ feel to this production, set ‘in the round’ (well, ‘in the rectangle’ to be accurate), with a greater reliance on the script to establish time and place. The script calls for the set to “either look like a scruffy Garden of Eden, or it should gradually grow in size to represent a house being built, or both”. One’s imagination would need to be rather creative to get any sense of any of those options.

But the script is strong enough to support a lack of scenery. The shortness of some of the scenes, particularly early on, made the performance feel very ‘bitty’, as though the audience was being exposed only to fragments of the story. This initial frustration soon gives way as the production gets into its stride. It stays at a level of heightened emotions for too long, however, ironically resulting in a performance rather blander than necessary. Adam (Lee Knight) remains confident and Eve (Jeannie Dickinson) remains inquisitive and suspicious.

Enter Nikki (Melissa Parker), 16 years old, one of Adam’s students. She sits, after school, in detention. Just her and ‘Sir’, nobody else. The classroom door, it can be reasonably assumed, is closed. I doubt you need any further details to figure out why Adam finds himself out of a job as a secondary school teacher. Whether anything untoward actually did go on is something the play explores in some detail, but it is at least partly about perception and the power of the persuasive argument. An analogy from my own school days is about proposing at the school’s debating society the motion, ‘This House believes the world is flat’. If, hypothetically, the flat-earthers put together a more cogent and convincing perspective than their opponents, the motion could well be carried.

There’s a rhythm to much of the dialogue, in which the characters (none of whom, admittedly, are particularly likeable), and the conversations cover a lot of ground considering this is a one-act production. From the issue of ever-increasing house prices and the various factors to be taken into consideration when buying a property through to whether anyone can really trust anybody anymore, the play is very much a story of contemporary times. Eve is concerned about the cost of raising a child (£227,266, apparently), and when Adam is asked “not to go in” (that is, into work), she deduces that “there’s no smoke without fire”.

Indeed, there isn’t. A memorable play, it’s worth seeing. However, I couldn’t quite determine whether the seeming lack of palpable chemistry between Adam and Eve was deliberate – to misquote the 1970s band Joy Division, was love tearing them apart? With some interesting twists in the story, right up to the closing scenes, this is a riveting and relevant production, a portrayal of a series of events that could feasibly happen in the world in which we live today.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

A modern-day Genesis story.
‘What does it say about the state of our relationship, if one small thing comes along and destroys it forever?’
Newlyweds Adam & Eve are moving to the countryside, leaving the city behind for good. They’re going to buy a house, start a family and live happily ever after. But when Adam is suspended from work and accusations are made, they’re forced to question how well they really know each other.
What lurks beneath the surface? And how can marriage survive in a post-truth society?
Adam & Eve is a startling new play about trust, feminism and the nature of accusations from award-winning Royal Court Young Writer Tim Cook. It comes to The Hope Theatre after a critically acclaimed run last year.

Creatives:
Producer – Broken Silence Theatre
Director – Jennifer Davis
Lighting Designer – Ben Jacobs
Sound Designer – Aran Knight

Listings Information
ADAM & EVE
by Tim Cook
The Hope Theatre
207 Upper Street
London N1 1RL
22 May – 9 June 2018

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