CREATION: Review Rundown

Played out on Francois-Pierre Couture’s chilly pastel set (think Ingmar Bergman meets Ikea), “Creation” unfolds as a kind of lab experiment in which four prickly smart types discover that the gut knows more than frontal lobe. At one point, Amal tells Sarah about his father’s candy store, where he sneaked dates “that I’d keep in my mouth. Suck on it until all the fruit was off of it. And then relax my tongue around it — make a little home for the pit. …” Beat. Sarah: “Show me. How you — do that.”

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The questions posited by both [Oliver] Sacks’ essay and [Kathryn] Walat’s play are what happened to the man’s brain after the lightning struck, and where exactly lies the source creativity that inspires poets and composers to share the voices in their heads. Is it neurological, as in the structure of pathways in the brain? Or is it, to quote Ian’s term that makes his wife’s teeth itch, “divine”?

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“Creation,” as with many other shows at The Theatre at Boston Court, will leave one to peel layers of meaning long after the play is done. The ethical wrestling of Walat’s characters is, in the end, a sequence of questions without easy answers. And that is just what a good play ought to leave people to work out. Here, as in life, major upheavals rarely wrap up in tidy packages.

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Director Michael Michetti and a crackerjack design team have fashioned the perfect ambiance for this play to cast its dreamlike spell. And a superb four-member acting ensemble, finely orchestrated by Michetti, goes a long way toward enriching a script that feels one or two drafts away from a fully realized artistic vision. In any case, this classy and sometimes thought-provoking mix of comedy and drama offers an engaging two hours of cerebral entertainment.

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It’s not necessarily a new theme for a playwright to put out there: the schism between science and soul, the interplay of facts and faith, particularly when it comes to the act of creation. But Kathryn Walat’s world-premiere drama is a fascinating contemporary meditation that stirs things up by closely focusing on four people whose lives become forever altered after an act of either nature or God. Although the nuances of its story are sometimes overshadowed by the production’s dazzling design elements, “Creation” has a vivid perspective and, under Michael Michetti’s direction, standout performances.

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The Theatre at Boston Court presents a first-rate world premiere of Kathryn Walat’s smart and intricate “Creation.” This two-hour show reveals the effects on three semi-random people as they relate and react to Ian, an evolutionary biologist who’s been struck by lightning on his 40th birthday.

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Ian and Sarah have had what would seem to be the perfect marriage, not only of hearts but of minds, his work as an evolutionary biologist complimenting hers as a pathologist with none of that religious mumbo-jumbo attached. Then one night Ian gets struck by lightning and all that changes in an instant. Thus begins Kathryn Walat’s intriguing, thought-provoking new drama Creation, now getting its World Premiere in a production that makes it abundantly clear why The Theatre @ Boston Court is as top-tier as 99-Seat-Plan theater gets.

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Career creationism debunker Ian (Johnathan McClain) is struck by lightning and revived by his pathologist wife Sarah (Deborah Puette).  Ian begins to exhibit atypical behavior, including a willingness to entertain concepts of faith (how’s that for overt) and an inability to stop composing music.  His neurologist Amal (Ethan Rains) thinks Ian’s got brain damage, but maybe that’s only because Amal thinks he and Sarah were meant for each other.  Adam Silver plays Zach, a graduate student in musical composition whom Ian befriends with an ulterior motive.

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Michetti stages the work elegantly, from boating incident to melodramatic ending, on François-Pierre Couture’s set paired with Adam Flemming’s projection design, providing visual interest and mood. Bruno Louchouarn’s original music lets the audience know that at least we’re not imagining it.

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Reviews added as they are published.

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