“Lookingglass Artistic Associate Sara Gmitter has crafted one of those rare plays that offers an extraordinarily powerful combination: an achingly beautiful love story that also happens to be completely topical,” says Jeff Award winner Andrew White of the company’s current production In the Garden: A Darwinian Love Story.
In addition to serving as Lookingglass Theatre’s artistic director, White stars as Charles Darwin opposite Rebecca Spence who plays his wife Emma. Both are excellent in their respective roles as they romance and challenge each other in an intellectual and heartfelt debate between science and faith, cleverly constructed by playwright Jessica Thebus.
“Darwin’s writings are some of the most significant and influential in human history, and continue to engender heated debate in this country,” adds White. “That they were also a subject of loving, if sometimes contentious, debate within his own household is a story I know our audiences are going to find fascinating, relevant and thoroughly gripping.”
Although a little long in the tooth, particularly the second act’s drawn-out illness, the play provides enough wit and wisdom to entertain and enlighten viewers as it’s sure to provoke a fair share of post-show discussions.
Under the direction of Gmitter, the solid supporting cast includes the very versatile Cindy Gold and Austin Tichenor as well as youthful players Jonathan Babbo and Caroline Heffernan.
Scenic Designer Collette Pollard’s creative set visually echos the story’s juxtaposition between man and nature while the costume design of Ensemble Member Mara Blumenfeld is both artistic and historically accurate. Additional production credits include JR Lederle (lighting), Sarah Burnham (props), Tess Golden (production stage manager) and Jeri Frederickson (assistant stage manager).
In the Garden has been extended and now runs through June 29 at Lookingglass Theatre’s space inside the Water Tower Water Works on 821 N. Michigan Avenue at Pearson in Chicago. For tickets ($45-$70) visit www.lookingglasstheatre.org or call 312-337-0665.