Lookingglass’ IN THE GARDEN: A DARWINIAN LOVE STORY Respects Both Science & Faith
“In a world without people, I might believe in God”. These prolific words are uttered by Charles Darwin in Lookingglass’ intensely smart world premiere of Sara Smitter’s In The Garden: A Darwinian Love Story. Deftly directed Jessica Thebus the story of Charles Darwin and Emma Goldman is as much a case study on the theory of evolution as it is about the evolution of relationships after life experiences shatters the normal.
In The Garden follows Charles (Andrew White) and Emma Goldman (Rebecca Spense) from being childhood friends to becoming inseparable soul mates (if the soul exists) while raising a family in the backdrop of his publication on the evolution of the species. The play’s conflict is self evident as Darwin is man of science whose concept of the creator differs greatly than Emma’s, whose biblical believes shape the world now and beyond. But what each believes so strongly is shattered when their daughter is taken gravely ill.
Smitter’s strong script is buoyed even stronger performances by Mr. White and Ms. Spense whose performances are never forced and always measured within a ubiquitous truth. Supporting cast members Cindy Gold and Austin Tichenor do great work in a plethora of characters while Jonathan Balbo and Caroline Heffernan give very adult performances as the Darwin children.
What drives In The Garden is that the respectful relationship between Charles and Emma trumps the philosophical differences. Their love always rings true, no matter what each of their beliefs dictate to them. More than that, the couple’s disagreements never materialize into a screaming match. Instead, the audience is treated to an actual debate that gives merit to both parties (akin to Mark St. Germain’s play Freud’s Last Session) which again shows the power of the theatre art form.
In The Garden: A Darwinian Love Story plays through June 15, 2014 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. For tickets or more information call 312.337.0665 or visit www.lookingglasstheatre.org For calendar information visit www.theatreinchicago.com