It’s their first time, and they’re nervous. But the directors of Generic Theatre Company’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Creation of the World and Other Business have nothing to be nervous about – the play is magnificent.
In their directorial debuts at GW, Nizar Wattad and Jason Steinhauer craft a passionate, witty portrayal of creation as only Arthur Miller could envision. The staging is so well constructed that the audience forgets it is in the closet-sized Downstage Lisner.
The story is Genesis. The show opens with God (Eric Klein) shedding light on the world by means of a light switch. Klein portrays God evenly, showing both compassion and resolve.
Problems arise when Adam (Jon K. Williams) and Eve (Dorothy Cascerceri) cannot grasp the concept of sex. God has made everything in the garden so perfect that Adam cannot distinguish between kissing a tree and kissing his wife.
Enter Lucifer, played by David Applebaum. Applebaum gives a brilliant portrayal of the devil. His acting is sly, smooth and devious. At times, he is almost too good at playing the Devil. Lucifer suggests letting the couple taste an apple from the tree of knowledge, giving them insight into the way the world works. As the story goes, Lucifer tempts Eve and she bites. They are thrown out of paradise forever.
The play continues through the Genesis story to the death of Abel at the hands of his brother, Cain. Throughout the creation story, the script ties in social commentary to the Biblical story. Through creation, the play attempts to explain such things as gender roles and marital disputes.
The most impressive aspect of the play is the acting. Almost every actor delivers the personality of their character. Most notable is Dan Breed, who plays Cain. Breed is full of fire as he delivers the lines of the unloved and ultimately vengeful brother. His facial expressions mirror the anger and resentment seen and heard in Cain’s character.
Also solid are the performances of Williams and Cascerceri. Williams’ Adam provides for some comic relief. He is a little dimwitted and blindly follows God. In the end, he is one of the only characters who shows faith in God throughout the play. Cascerceri has a more difficult role with Eve, but plays it beautifully. She portrays Eve as passionate and intellectual. With the possible exception of Lucifer, Eve is the deepest character in the play, torn in many directions by many different factors. Through Cascerceri’s acting, you see how easy it is to get lost in the world.
Even the actors in the smaller roles come through big for the directors. The three angels, played by Shrayas Jatkar, Amanda Sinrod, and Michelle Coyle, offer comic relief. Jonathan Sanborn, who plays Abel, is appropriately simple.
The sound effects, done by C.J. Pizarro, add another dimension to the play. They are always apropos of the situation and help to foster a sense of mysticism in the otherwise mundane set.
Also deserving note are the costumes, done by Allison Kohn and Cortney Bolduan. They have God running around in his pajamas, angels with glitter on their arms and Adam, after the births of Cain and Abel, dressed like Mike Brady.
The Creation of the World and Other Business will be performed Thursday at 8 p.m. and Friday to Sunday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. in Downstage Lisner. Tickets cost $3.