After all that Torontoist has heard about Welcome To Eden, Population 2 (a divine musical), I knew I was in for a treat. With so many layers in the story of Eden, so much that can be explored. What better place to do it than the Fr!nge Festival, a venue to break boundaries and experiment with theatre?
The production started off pretty good. How good? Very good. Adam (brilliantly played by Mark Allan) appears from dust belting out the first tune, I’m Alive. But God couldn’t leave well enough alone, letting in the rest of the cast into paradise. No, I’m not talking about Brett McCaig (the voice of God) but rather the Gods of Good Musical Theatre who should have stricken down the show at this point.
Where to begin? Where to begin?
Why not the book of Genesis? The first few chapters are quite thin in their storytelling, allowing for multiple readings and the ability to take much artistic liberty. The gist of the story should be left unchanged, making the reinterpretation relevant. Key facts should be kept: Eden was paradise… no one ever toiled or went without in Eden… Eve ate the fruit first… Welcome to Eden, however, chooses to rewrite the story of Adam and Eve, not in the name of the arts, but in order to make their story (riddled with matrimonial cliches) make sense.
As mentioned, Mark Allan was fantastic as Adam, and really carried the production. Eve (Julie Martell) and Lucifer (Robert Laughton) however, left much to be desired. Torontoist found this quite odd though since Martell has some impressive theatre credits… but how does one go from Broadway to Fr!nge? She was in dire need of directing, especially during the Hysterical Woman number where Yoga poses are interpreted as “hysterical” by Lucifer. Further, Appropriately named, Laughton literally laughed through the entirety of his final number, marking the play with an armature tone.
In fear of being labeled a player hater, Torontoist will say something nice about the production. Um… Right…. Well… It has a lot of potential… A LOT of potential, which is what made the musical so hard to sit through. The book and lyrics were good, and I understand why this play was made… But what I don’t understand is why it was made like this.
Like the man in the commercial says… Save Your Money… and watch out for bad apples masquerading as oranges. Again, oddly enough, this show is likely to be sold out every showing, so get your tickets early… proof once again that 1400 people (200 people * 7 shows) CAN be wrong.
Warning: Too many menstrual jokes. Gender role cliches. Multiple duets sung while facing the audience. That holy ghost is creeping me out. Too much hype for its own good.
4/8 -ists… and that is being generous.
Check out the Fr!nge website and listings for dates, times and locations.