A play featuring a breakdown in communication, first-hand accounts of the exile from the Garden of Eden and other misadventures is rich fodder no matter where your audience stands on questions of theology. However Arthur Miller’s The Creation of the World and other Business has historically been a challenge to stage and this production proves no different.
The 9th Hour Theatre Company creates a circus-themed set with God as ringmaster and the audience seated big-top style in a semi-circle. As we took our seats the cast paraded in song-and-dance setting the tone for a theatrical performance ahead.
The plot is straight-forward exploring questions of good versus evil, free-will, justice and gender – the latter perhaps not intentionally but the biblical theme and dated writing (1972) do bring gender roles to the fore. The first act retells Lucifer’s temptation of Adam and Eve with the fruit of knowledge leading to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. God is unable to get Adam and Eve to procreate while Lucifer – arguing he is serving his lord – believes a bite from the apple will spice up their carnal appetite allowing the end goal to be reached.
The 6 members of the ensemble cast provide enthusiastic interpretations but the script lacks the necessary grit to move portrayals beyond the superficial as emotions seesaw between naiveté and over-wrought angst. The dynamic of Lucifer and God is most compelling. As the Arch Angel self-justifies his actions and, rejected by his father, plots his Machiavellian scheme to interfere with Eve’s pregnancy and the birth of Cain, his complexity and their familial dynamic begs further exploration. Lucifer (Johnny Eaton) and God (George Dutch) do their utmost to bring nuance to their relationship and their performances are to be noted however the continuing plot line is encumbered by role swaps in the ensemble cast and the growing polemic that marks the second act’s murder and fraught search for human justice.
It’s a strange play ripe with timeless questions, insights on the human condition and the contractions of scientific and theological minds yet Miller never hits his stride in a production that is neither comedy nor drama. This production will likely have greater appeal for those wishing to explore these questions but I’m hoping that perhaps this troupe might undertake Davalos’ Wittenberg in future, which is a far more satisfying battle of reason versus faith.
The Creation of the World and Other Business runs until August 8, 2015 at the Great Canadian Theatre Company (1227 Wellington West). For showtimes and other info, click here. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased online.