Sunday, July 18, 2010

Falling for Eve (And Maybe Falling Asleep)

Falling for Eve had some bright and funny moments, but as a whole lacked enough spark to hold my interest. At only 90 minutes, this retelling of the Adam and Eve story, directed by Larry Raben, felt too long and packed with too many songs -- 16. I don’t know how far along it is in the development process, but it wasn’t up to the usual excellence of the York Theatre Company’s full productions; it seemed more on the level of a staged reading.

Eve (Krystal Joy Brown, in photo right) is by far the most appealing character. (Isn’t she always?) She’s sharper than God/She (Sasha Sloan, center) and God/He (Adam Kantor) and Adam (Jose Llana, left) put together. She bites that apple all right, and pays the consequences in banishment from Eden, but she learns enough about life and herself to realized “Eden is no paradise.”

Unlike in the biblical story, this Adam doesn’t indulge and so spends boring day after day watching the animals play and missing Eve. I couldn’t help but think of the writings of esteemed psychologist Alice Miller and her take on the Genesis account -- what kind of god (parent) wants to keep his children in ignorance? Eve is the only one who realizes knowledge is a good thing.

She also gets to belt out the best songs (music by Bret Simmons and lyrics by David Howard) as she wanders the world. Her “Where Will I Sleep Tonight?” is a soulful cry of anguish, one of the highlights of the evening.

Rounding out the cast are Jennifer Blood and Nehal Joshi as Sarah and Michael, angels who advise Eve and Adam and serve as go-betweens for God. For the most part, their roles provided humor and moved the show along.

The musical’s book was written by Joe DiPietro, who last month won Tonys for best book and best score for his work on Memphis. He includes some wry humor, such as when Sarah tells God he’s “a mess of contradictions” (the real one is too!) and when God tells the grieving Adam he’ll provide him with a replacement for Eve and says this great new person will be called Nicole. “Nicole,” Adams asks skeptically. “That name’s going to be very popular someday,” God assures him.

Unfortunately more of these little nuggets are needed to spice up life in Eden, which has a way of making earth, even with all of its pain and suffering, much more desirable. That’s certainly Eve’s discovery and seemed to be the message of the show, but we need to pass too much time in dullsville Eden to get to this conclusion.

Falling for Eve continues through Aug. 8 at the Theatre at St. Peter’s Church, 54th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. Tickets are available by calling (212) 935-5820 or by visiting

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