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By Julie Peppiatt on 26.10.2023

Review: The Diaries of Adam and Eve

Based on Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve, Elton Townend Jones adaptation, performed as part of The Canterbury Festival, unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. Providing a ‘traditional’ spin on relationships with accuracy in the form of atypical male and female ‘disagreements’, The Diaries of Adam and Eve reuses old puns and ‘Dad jokes’ in an attempt to relay the many years of couples heartache. Although there are moments of clarity within the writing and sometimes acting, there are also moments of boredom; moments where I began to wish dreaded ‘knowledge’ would become a part of Eden in order to let the show come to an end. It’s not my favourite show, but is it yours?

Eve, the lure of Adam, is the one that brings the downfall of the world and the creation of death through her weakness in temptation, but all I can say about her is she is annoying; incessantly talking, supposedly adventurous and yet portrayed as completely unintelligent, (despite her ironic thirst for knowledge). This is perhaps the character she is supposed to play; Rebecca Vaughan’s acting was a tribute to her character as she spun long winded, tongue twisting excerpts at the audience. However, the character of Eve brought out a feminist side in me I never knew I had. The portrayal of Eve’s character as a representation of womankind was a little insulting. The simplicity of her character although supposedly reflecting the beginning of the world was not naive and endearing but incessant and frustrating; I guess I understand why Adam wanted to move so far away from her! Not to say that Adam is any better, playing on the male stereotype, demonstrating a reliance on practicality rather than emotion and expressing less than vocal responses. The characters were a little too over-baked.

The daily structure, announced by a God-like voice that boomed over the stage led the play along, showing the lives of the characters on a weekly basis. On Wednesday it rained. The actors cling to each other under the largest umbrella I’ve ever seen, gaping at the audience through their thinly veiled characters, praying for some good reception. This is how I felt the whole show played out. There were a few laughs throughout the audience, and there were moments of genius where the characters speech crossed with the characters narrating the tale, this was nicely handled. However there was something missing, something that did not keep me entirely enthralled. The whole production was all too accurate and yet not accurate enough. The relationship between Adam and Eve replayed physical comedy; the crossing and uncrossing of legs in sync and verbal comedy, ‘she wants to keep a Brontosaurus as a pet!’. On the other hand, the accuracy in using the tale of Adam and Eve as a basis for relationship humour just wasn’t close enough. The two lines of modern day life and Biblical teachings didn’t interweave fluidly and it came off as a little too dry.

Through Adam and Eve’s journey, which is relayed as very primitive, we are supposed to find familiarity. I suppose there were moments that every couple will have been through, the fights about nothing, the ‘I’ll do anything for you’ speech and the loathing strangely disguised as love. The characters do develop throughout the show, but unfortunately, there were many moments when I wanted to shout as a director; “no, replay that scene again, I just don’t believe it yet!”. I believe it is a show that is very alike Marmite – it’s just not my cup of tea. But perhaps it is yours.


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