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Off Broadway Review: Linden & Henner as Adam & Eve

Back to the Garden: 
A New Play about Adam & Eve is a summer delight.


The story of Adam and Eve from the Book of Genesis in the Bible has been the jumping off point for many writers. No less authors than Arthur Miller tackled it in his The Creation of the World and Other Business and Mark Twain had a go with The Diaries of Adam and Eve. The Bock and Harnick musical The Apple Tree set the story to music and was a modest hit on Broadway in 1966.

 These and other works—including numerous movies—imagine the first couple negotiating the ins and outs of marriage, usually with a wink and a nod to contemporary marital relations—and the perpetual battle of the sexes, so to speak. The comedy, of course, stems from the supposition that couplehood has always had its challenges since there were people…and since they tried to make a go of it as a pair. Even if we know it’s fiction, there’s something comforting in laughing at the nuisance of a partner’s snoring or lack of communication, and that it’s nothing new.

The timeless topic isn’t new, but it gets a delightful new look in The Journals of Adam & Eve: The World’s First Love Story now playing at the Sheen Center in Manhattan. Ed. Weinberger’s comedy is sweet and charming with a good measure of gentle bawdiness—especially when it comes to Adam and Eve discovering making love. And Weinberger suggests that perhaps the snake wasn’t such a bad guy after all because once Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of Knowledge they discover that sex is quite wonderful.

The show is presented as reader’s theater with two actors at lecterns, the story goes from the beginning through the lives of Adam and Eve, their discovering their worlds, banishment from the garden, becoming parents, separating, and finally finding one another again. At times hilarious and touching, the familiarity of the situations and Weinberger’s mordant take on it all makes this a lovely evening, particularly in a summer convulsed with politics and vitriol outside the theater.

The piece is all the better for the performances by iconic actors Hal Linden as Adam and Marilu Henner as Eve. Linden, at age 93, is fully in command of the story and his Adam emerges as a loving, sometimes irascible, yet eternally youthful man. Henner has always been a deliciously sly comedienne, and as Eve, she manages to land a bigger laugh with a well-timed side eye than one might think possible. Her Eve while also being kind, is not a woman to be messed with. Together, Linden and Henner create a delightful portrait of a long-term couple, and their onstage chemistry is infectious as they bring this timeless tale to life. You’ll feel right at home with them, and probably keep smiling for the rest of the evening, even after the show ends.

The Journals of Adam & Eve: The Worlds’ First Love Story
Sheen Center
18 Bleecker Street, Manhattan
Weds-Sat 7 p.m.; Weds, Sat Sun 2 p.m. through July 28
$39-$99 here or at 212-219-3132

Posted July 11, 2024