Twain’s Edenic diaries get adapted to the stage
The Diary of Adam and Eve
TheatreNOW • 10th and Dock Streets
Jan. 18-19, 25-26 and Feb. 1-2
Doors at 5:30 p.m.; show at 6 p.m.
Tickets: $20-$28 • theatrewilmington.com
Adam and Eve appeared in many of Mark Twain’s writings throughout his literary career. “The Innocents Abroad” and even “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” saw their inclusion before Twain dedicated short writings to them in “Extracts from Adam’s Diary,” followed by “Eve’s Diary,” at the turn of the 20th century. Don Roberts published the works as one, “The Diaries of Adam and Eve,” in the late ‘90s, which eventually became a one-act through Dramatic Publishing. Bringing it to the Wilmington stage for the first time will be TheatreNOW, with the script adapted by local thespian, writer and director Anthony Lawson.
“Hank Toler, my technical manager, forwarded me Anthony’s script and said that Anthony and Susan Auten had been trying to get this produced for a while,” Alisa Harris, proprietor of TheatreNOW, says. “I read through it and thought it was perfect to open the new year with two humans discovering their world and each other.”
Capturing the vibe every new year provides—parting with the old for a fresh start—Harris, who has worked with Lawson on the local scene for years, loved incorporating the idea into her first show of 2013. More so, that it would run through the first weekend of February also would make it timely for Valentine’s Day.
“The show ultimately is about how Adam and Eve discover each other and define first love,” she describes. “I immediately thought of Big Dawg’s show ‘Love Letters.’ I am not above stealing a great idea, and ‘Love Letters’ is successfully and often played with real couples doing a staged reading performance of the piece.”
Thus, the show will feature real-life spouses onstage each weekend to bring to life the comedy, reverence and scenarios every relationship endures. This weekend, January 18th and 19th, Jason Aycock and Heather Setzler will take the stage, followed by Alex Wharff and Katherine Vernon on the 25th and 26th, and Troy and Katherine Rudeseal on February 1st and 2nd.
Like most Theatre NOW shows, dinner will also be served and prepared by Chef Denise Gordon. Three courses consist of: “New Year’s Resolution Course” of vegetable consommé with pasta pearls and fresh herbs; “In the Garden of Eden Main Course” with chicken breast “en papillote,” garden vegetables and new potatoes or vegetarian choice and; “Temptation Course” of passion fruit panna cotta with apple caramel sauce.
“I also can’t think of being in the Garden of Eden and not eating healthy, fresh food,” Harris notes, “so we’ve created a fresh menu with just one decadent ‘sinful’ temptation.”
encore spoke with writer Anthony Lawson about adapting the script and some of the challenges and highlights of doing the show.
encore (e): What liberties did you take with the “The Diary of Adam and Eve”?
Anthony Lawson (AL): Virtually none. This was one of the first theatrical projects I ever attempted. I basically just took the two separate diaries and found the common thread and put them in the correct order—then I wrote pieces to bridge them together. There are a few jokes of mine scattered in there, but I wrote this seven years ago, and I’m pleased to find I can’t remember which parts are mine and which ones are Mark Twain.
e: What do you find most appealing about the show?
AL: I’m a huge Mark Twain fan. It’s very much like my obsession with Groucho Marx (or Tron). When I get into something, I’m all in. When I was young, I saw a Claymation version of “The Diary of Adam” and thought it was hilarious. Later in life, I kept thinking about the movie and thought, That would make a great stage show! So I wrote it. The humor is subtle and sarcastic. What is there not to like?
e: Why do you propose audiences will connect with it?
AL: There is seriously something in there for everyone: If you’ve ever discovered something new. If you’ve ever fallen in love. If you’ve ever been sick of another person. If you’ve ever been a spouse. If you’ve ever been a parent. If you’ve ever lost someone—seriously, everyone can connect to this piece.Completely family-friendly. There is only one off-color joke in the entire piece … and I think it goes mostly unnoticed until it’s too late.
e: What has been your favorite part of the show so far?
AL: I get to bring a great piece of literature to the public’s attention—I mean the original. I’m not seriously calling my own work great literature.
e: What’s been the biggest challenge of this show?
AL: Getting the couples to commit to weekends. We had plenty that wanted to do the show but couldn’t for one reason or another. It was very flattering actually to have so many people compliment the script and jump on board after reading it just once. Of course the source material is great. At least I didn’t screw it up.
e: I understand you played Adam over the weekend and Auten took on the character of Eve. What has been memorable about this role?
AL: Playing Adam is so much fun; he is so disgruntled in the first act. Then he plays the perfect idiot in Act Two and wraps the whole thing up by being unbelievably sweet. He actually has my favorite line that has ever been written—once again, straight from the original.
I am directing the other couples [from here on out]. I know this material so well and have lived with it for so long, I really couldn’t imagine anyone else taking the reigns.