EXTENDED THRU June 29 “In the Garden” (Lookingglass Theatre): Evolving Love

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

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