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Adam and Eve review at Hope Theatre, London – ‘unconvincing and underdeveloped’

Lee Knight in Adam and Eve at Hope Theatre, London
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In Tim Cook’s hour-long play Adam and Eve, the biblical progenitors take the form of a smug middle-class couple (played by Lee Knight and Jeannie Dickinson) who are moving to an up-and-coming part of the countryside and intending to try for a baby.

Their plans, however, are shattered when the nonchalant Adam, a secondary school English teacher with the belief that “little girls should do as they’re told”, is accused of the statutory rape of a pupil, the argumentative Nikki (Melissa Parker).

Along with the biblical allusions – Adam’s ‘fall’, rather than Eve’s – the Jane Eyre parallel, in the form of Nikki’s homework in which she is required to write an essay about a woman who shares characteristics with Charlotte Bronte’s heroine, feels like an attempt to insert additional intertextuality that isn’t fully formed.

Moreover, the perplexing denouement, in which Nikki proudly justifies her actions as a feminist crusade to free Eve from a life of dull domesticity is absurd, especially when the meeting between the two women that leads to the trouble takes place in the blink of an eye.

If the characters and narrative were more strongly developed, it could be a thought-provoking exploration of how easily a teacher’s reputation can be permanently damaged in the face of trumped-up allegations and what could possibly motivate such behaviour. However, the bittiness of the scenes combined with the lack of visual interest in Jennifer Davis’ production makes it feel more suited to an Afternoon Play on Radio 4 than to live theatre.

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An unconvincing and underdeveloped updating of the Genesis myth