But playwright James Still apparently thinks otherwise, thus the world premiere of his new play at the American Heartland Theatre. Said to be "inspired by" Twain's Eve's Diary and Extracts from Adam's Diary, the show has adopted the cumbersome title The Diaries of Adam and Eve: Searching for Eden. Call it what you will, it's still too precious to make much of an impact.
Del Unruh's set design is more interesting than anything spouted by Adam (Sean Grennan) or Eve (Barbara McCulloh), who are found at the play's opening lost in their own worlds. When they realize they're not alone -- that there's some bigger plan, like God has set them up on a blind date -- they begin to bicker over the little things that have separated the sexes lo these thousands of years. But reminding us that men are boorish pigs who need women to civilize them is not the freshest material.
What's meant to be cute and charming here comes off as annoying by its sheer redundancy. Much of the first act pivots on malapropisms as the two begin naming everything in their view. Struck by something resembling emotion, for example, Eve says, "A flailing ... a failing ... a feeling!" Later, minus any visible props to explain how the language is being formed, she utters, "Lantern! Geisha! Swiss cheese!" Imagine an hour of this, and you'll get a sense of the play's witless patter. How much of this is Twain and how much Still is a moot point.
"Retort," Eve says later before correcting herself, "No, resort." That's the clue to a second half described as happening "thousands of years later," when the Garden of Eden has indeed become a resort. But if nothing of interest happened a thousand years earlier, how different can a time-traveling fast-forward be?
Director Paul Hough apparently cast Grennan and McCulloh to signify that the first couple were Irish redheads. If that's not anachronistic enough, there are two human-form sculptures on either side of the set for no discernible reason. I couldn't help wondering who, exactly, had crafted the artifacts, a distraction this forgettable play didn't need. I could go with the pond, the moon and an apple tree (even with Adam's Banana Republic khaki shorts), but the sculpture had me itchily disconcerted.
Robinson, whose career includes work off and on Broadway in New York as well as in one of Kansas City's more interesting venues in the 1980s, the 39th Street Theater, says the location of the space and its hospitable proportions make it a jewel that is underutilized at best.
"I did an impromptu survey about the space," Robinson tells the Pitch. "I walked down Broadway and asked people randomly, CEDo you know what Just Off Broadway is?' They looked at me like I was crazy.
"We want to give the theater an image that I don't think is there yet," he continues. "The main thing I want to do is elevate the space to be part of Kansas City's cultural community. There are many young directors, technicians and actors in this town who want hands-on theater experience. We want to give them that."
Just Off Broadway houses a number of community theater groups who rent the space in succession; coming up this week is Mind's Eye Theatre's Sordid Lives. But Robinson says there's no overriding theme or identity to the space -- it's like a rental tux, its purpose changing with each customer.
"One thing we're looking at implementing is a subscription series, where audience members can experience, say, five of the samplings, no matter which group is producing the show," Robinson says. "And we need to flesh out the board with community people rather than just those who want to produce shows here."
Gorilla Theatre cofounder David Luby, who recently resigned from the board because of other commitments, says Robinson's hiring is a good move for members such as Gorilla. "In order for the place to succeed and improve, we needed a full-time position like a director," he says. Luby adds that, rumors to the contrary, Gorilla will continue to mount shows at Just Off Broadway.