Forget about Adam. In Rewiring Eden, Paradise is a women-only zone, home to Eve, Lilith, and a host of other female figures borrowed from legend and myth. Long maligned or misunderstood, the women of Eden set the record straight in this heartfelt and humorous world premiere from The Coil Project.
Theatergoers may already be familiar with Lilith, Eve’s predecessor and Adam’s first wife. She was cast out of Paradise, the story goes, for refusing to submit to her husband, but her rebellion didn’t make it into the book of Genesis. Instead, she’s been demonized for millennia, her place in history sidelined.
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In Rewiring Eden, lead writer Jenny Oberholtzer takes up the mantle of narrative justice for Lilith and her fellow Garden-dwellers, crafting new backstories (in collaboration with the ensemble) for matter-of-fact Eve (Star Bobatoon), impish Lilith (Rebecca Rose Vassy), brooding Medea (Noa Gelb), sweet-tempered Jochebed (Denise Sanchez), and eccentric Morgan le Fay (Carol McCaffrey). The moving, mythic sensibility calls to mind Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, a retelling of the story of Orpheus and his bride.
As Lilith, Rebecca Rose Vassy is particularly delightful. Jaunty and self-possessed, she’s a wise-cracking cool-aunt type who delivers memorable quips while decked out in glitter, combat boots, and a snake-print dress. There’s no need for a serpent in Eden with Lilith around — her clever one-liners have plenty of bite.
And in director Victoria Glock-Molloy’s Eden, like the Biblical original, an apple is never just an apple. The women grow crops like perseverance and free will out of the “soil of creation.” Clever props and foliage set aglow with shining LED strands heighten the sense of enchantment that arises as each woman shares her deeply symbolic bounty — and her story — with Veronica (Rebekah D. Mason), a journalist who, waylaid by car trouble, has unexpectedly found herself in Paradise.
Rewiring Eden closes July 25, 2019 Details and tickets
Lilith wants Veronica to share Eden’s truths with the outside world, but Veronica is reluctant. She is devastated, we come to learn, by a major professional setback that may strike some as more anachronistic than poignant — perhaps because her motivations, compared with the others’, remain somewhat cloudy. What drew her to journalism in the first place, the audience is left to wonder, and who is she outside of it? It’s a minor sticking point, but one that feels starker because of the way that Rewiring Eden ponders the nature of personal truth and the fraught work of bringing it to light.
Still, strong performances, engaging writing, and a compelling reimagining of an age-old setting come together to remind us of the power of telling one’s own story, even — and perhaps especially — when it feels hard to do.