Lookingglass Theatre presents the World Premiere IN THE GARDEN: A DARWINIAN LOVE STORY.
Believing in evolution is key to the enjoyment of this play about Charles and Emma Darwin’s marriage. He is a scientist. She is a unitarian. Playwright Sara Gmitter uses heavy-duty narratives to establish their viewpoints. Andrew White (Darwin) talks like a science textbook. Rebecca Spence (Emma) talks like a bible thumper. In the first act, the he said/she said has a maddening science guy meets Jehovah Witness fervor.
Then, it evolves. The couple’s love story triumphs over the science-religion debate. In Act 2, White and Spence connect on an emotional level. The spirited intellectual sparring settles into a respected understanding. They no longer have to prove their point to the other. They now have to build a life in the dual reality.
Under the direction of Jessica Thebus, White and Spence both embody their fanaticism. Their lengthy discourses are delivered with passion. While White is compelled forward by an insatiable curiosity, Spence is anchored in an unwavering devotion to God. Spence, in particular, does a stellar job of representing the religious mindset of the time period. She zealously argues for a belief system, which in hindsight sounds fairly ridiculous. Yet, Spence endears the audience to her simplistic faith in her God and in her husband.
Out of all the great love stories in history, Gmitter chose to tell the Darwins’ story. This play is not about falling in love. It’s about evolving in love. I found the first act fairly tedious. I’ve never heard so much dialogue on the Lookingglass stage. And the theatre’s signature whimsy is missing. No one soars through the air or pops out of a hidden door. A billowing curtain doesn’t drop to reveal a viola moment. IN THE GARDEN is a straight-forward-at-home-with-the-Darwins. Still, something magical happened in Act 2 for me. Between the science and religion courses, I found love.
Running Time: Two hours and twenty minutes includes an intermission
At Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan
Written by Sara Gmitter
Directed by Jessica Thebus
Tuesdays (May 13th and 27th, June 10th only) at 7:30pm
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays at 7:30pm
Thursdays (May 8th and 22nd, June 5th only) at 3pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm
EXTENDED Thru June 29th
Buy Tickets at www.lookingglasstheatre.org