When a blizzard strikes a small town, a handful of residents are snowed in at a mom-'n-pop, family-owned sex shop. Among others, the gang consists of an Elvis impersonator, a porn star, a pregnant woman, an alleged child molester, and a lesbian with a case of Amaxaphobia (the fear of riding in vehicles). It all sounds like a good idea for some sort of comedy, and it may have been a good idea when first conceived, but the Blunt Theatre Company's Seeking Eden fails to develop this idea with any success. Preachy neo-feminist diatribes, combined with relentless religious symbolism and some truly sub-par acting, made this play anything but the eponymous garden.
In the press release for Seeking Eden, playwright Sheila Morgan says "I didn't want to pound the religious motif over people's heads." Nevertheless, Morgan (with head-bonkin' mallet in hand) sets her play in a store called "The Garden of Eden," where a character named Eve (played by Morgan) meets a pregnant woman named Mary (Metha Brown), whose husband happens to be named Joseph (Benjamin Ellis Fine). There's also a heaping dose of other God stuff, like frequent references to "The gospel of Elvis" and the occasional Joan of Arc line.
The story creeps along at an ant's pace as Eve and her customers anxiously await the arrival of Lilly Luscious, a famous porn star who's been booked to appear at the store during the blizzard. A romantic subplot fills in some of the empty spaces in the show's plot but isn't particularly interesting. Ms. Luscious (T. Renee Mathis) makes her underwhelming arrival right on cue at the end of Act I, presumably intended as a cliffhanger, but so little has happened by the time of her arrival, that there's little impetus to prompt the audience to return after intermission.
The second Act starts off with a lengthy scene in which Eve, Mary, and Lilly Luscious talk about female sexuality, "Girl Power!" style. The air was so thick with rhetoric about empowerment that you could cut it with a knife, and could also swear that you were watching Oprah interview Madonna.
The set, by Brian Snapp, was a good facsimile of a sex shop, complete with boob-shaped shutters leading to the store's video section. Sound, by Karen Parlato, was a clever medley of love songs, but also included some annoying theme songs that blared anytime a character entered (each with their own theme). Amusing once or twice, but annoying when characters were still being introduced 90 minutes into the show. Costumes by Sheila Morgan and Dana Edell were serviceable, and the uniforms worn by a pair of wacky cops (Howell Seth Mayer and Grady Moredock) were excellent. Although this garden was mostly filled with weeds, there were a few roses too. Morgan as playwright was going somewhere with the Gospel of Elvis thing, and saved the best moment for last, sending off the audience with a serenade by the King (of Kings?) himself (as played by Gabe Hernandez). A handful of other successfully funny, or genuinely dramatic, blossoms were present too, but this garden was mainly fertilizer.(Also featuring Wayne Cantero, Kenneth Garson, Mark Lang, and Mary Goggin.)
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Copyright 2004 Charles Battersby