We're pretty familiar with the story: In the beginning, Adam and Eve found themselves at the Garden of Eden, hung out, named some animals, ran around naked and just had, had to check out that apple tree and the smooth-talking serpent. Suddenly, they were cast out and were forced to accessorize with fig leaves. Parenthood wasn't so hot either: Their first son, Abel, was a decent enough guy. But his brother, Cain, couldn't handle the sibling rivalry and offed his bro.
So what happens next? Do Adam and Eve stay together? Do they move to Florida? Does Eve develop a drinking problem when she discovers Adam's fling with his secretary? Playwright James Still ponders their story in his critically acclaimed Searching for Eden: The Diaries of Adam and Eve, which opens this week at Stages Repertory Theatre. Still's work, inspired by Mark Twain's Adam-and-Eve-themed short stories, starts out as you'd expect, in paradise at the dawn of time with some hot, young carnal love. Then there's the whole fall from grace. Act II finds the middle-aged couple -- several thousand years later -- who've returned to present-day Eden to rekindle the magic. "When they come back, they discover the Garden of Eden is an upscale spa, simply called 'E'," says Still. "The tree is gone, now there's a gift shop." Still thinks audiences will relate to Adam and Eve's shock and disappointment at the change. "That's happening everywhere," he says. "Our favorite places are torn down for progress and up goes something ugly in their place. People understand that. Whether it's the house they've grown up that's now a parking lot, or their favorite theater that's now a Wal-Mart."
Their paradise gone, suddenly, Adam and Eve are like so many other couples who find themselves in limbo after the newness of their love wears off (granted, it takes them a few thousand years -- Adam's clearly a virile guy). "They've changed," says Still. "Young love is a drug, it's fantastic. It's perfect in all its flaws, so we just ride it. But later, it's a bigger challenge. And that's what Act Two is about." Perhaps it's Eve, groaning at the age-old verse, who sums it up best: "'In the Beginning' is easy," she tells Adam. "It's the middle that's hard." 7:30 p.m. today; show runs through February 26. 3201 Allen Parkway. For tickets and showtimes, call 713-527-0123 or visit www.stagestheatre.com. $10 to $30.
Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: Feb. 8. Continues through April 2