A LA MODE
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
Set in a Garden of Eden where the Tree of Knowledge is named Frank, �
la mode is a funny play. Funny and Delightful. And I don’t use the
word delightful... well, ever. The acting is solid. The direction,
courtesy of Amanda Brandes, is smooth. I especially liked her staging of
the Dance of Eve’s Temptation, speaking volumes without saying a word.
Matthew Lembo’s music in this scene and throughout the show is
excellent. But I found myself craving more scenes with no words, just
sound and movement. I grew more and more frustrated as the play
continued to miss golden opportunities for good satire.
August 15, 2003
� la mode is an artless retelling of the first week or so of creation. Adam, well played by Eric Rosen, is busy naming the things of the newly born Earth. And Eve (Nicole Stewart, my favorite actor of the night), helps him try to figure out what "be fruitful and multiply" means. In a cabaret act that would surely sweep the nation, God (Nathan Freeman) tickles the ivories for a velvety voiced Serpent (Bryan Black), another highlight of the show. Unfortunately that is the extent of the highlights.
The script, provided by Michael Oristaglio, Clifford Sofield, and Alexander Tepper, lacks urgency. Religious satire is a subject in which I have particular interest. But I like my satire biting. Challenging even. Filled with irony and clever turns of phrase. The Bible is chock-full of comic situations. � la mode seizes upon some of them but doesn’t follow through to their full potential. For example, in the scene in which Eve preaches about the need to rid Eden of all serpents, the writers fail to make any connection between Adam and Eve’s desire to be "like God, knowing good and evil" and our current human situation—the sin of knowledge is all around us today, but you wouldn’t know it from � la mode. It is as if the writers wanted to keep it rated G.
However, if you are in the mood for a cute and often funny play that is suitable for the whole family, � la mode is your ticket. Hard To Get Theater Company delivers an entertaining product. I can certainly see them enjoying quite a bit of success with their mass appeal approach. But they won’t be provoking any thoughts or stirring up any controversy. I suppose there is enough art in the world to serve everyone’s needs from the silly to the shocking. But there is not enough vanilla ice cream in Eden that could help me swallow this tame apple pie of a play.