Written by John Ross Clark. September 19-25, 1996
6 Drama-Logue Awards, 1996 Season
Tucked into a converted apartment in the unlikely Wilshire corridor sits a small gem known as the Actors Art Theatre. Founded in New York City in 1989, Artistic Director Jolene Adams brought the franchise with her to L.A. two years ago. She is to be applauded for the decision. She must also be applauded for selecting the jewel of a play, Adam & Eva Marie, by Michael Solomon. Mr. Solomon, also a licensed psychotherapist and psychdramtist, has brought his understanding of these fields onto the stage in a highly intelligent, literate, and finely crafted play, starring Ms. Adams as Eva Marie and Jimmie F. Skaggs as Adam.
Adam is suffering from a crisis not uncommon to middle-aged men in this day and age. Alone some years after the end of his marriage, his libido seems to be waning, his work as a psychotherapist is stagnant, and meditation to ease his inner pain has proven harder and harder to achieve. Into his empty existence slinks Eva Marie, a prostitute with the typically troubled past, looking for answers to her own anguish. Having tried therapy in the past, with predictable results for a woman so winsome and willing, she propose to Adam an exchange of professional services. Once Adam has set some ground rules to mollify his own sense of ethics the mutual therapy sessions ensue.
The results are mostly predictable, but it is Solomon's examination and development of these troubled individuals which give the play its drama, its charm, and its fire.
Skaggs is never less than perfect as the distressed psychotherapist, in love with his own pontifications and insights, who's inflamed only by the emotional distress of his patient.
Jolene Adams' sultry Eva Marie appears at first to be cliché, but her performance grows with each moment, until we care for her as much as the therapist.
Both actors display great depth and well-springs of emotional truth. There is not one false moment in the material or the performances.
Kudos to Director Virginia Morris, who has done more with less space than I've ever seen. Her work is sure and clean. Set Designer Oliver Doering gives us two sets in one and Jim Yoder's lighting helps us to see them both clearly. David Hawkins' costumes are simple, yet sharply appropriate. Oh, and lest we forget, Leslie Hunt was perfection as the 900 girl.
Writer Solomon shows a keen insight into the single, middle-aged American male. The message is one of hope for all of us.