Tuesday, August 22, 2006

 

In 'Malibu,' survival of the wittiest (Theatre Review of 'Darwin in Mailbu')

Review: It's easy to imagine Charles Darwin spinning in his grave as Creationism, in the guise of Intelligent Design, rises up to challenge his theory of evolution once again. A little too easy.

Playwright Crispin Whittell doesn't tarry long on that easy route to 'Darwin in Malibu.' Although Gary Hygom's shingled, earth-tone set for the U.S. premiere at Bay Street Theatre re-creates an oceanfront deck that suggests the Hamptons, the shirt Hal Linden sports in his role of Charles Darwin gives him away as a Malibu tourist. What's drawn him to the West Coast is uncertain: perhaps a girl, Sarah (Anna Chlumsky), who kisses him chastely on the cheek and serves him a banana smoothie, or his fascination with faults - the geologic sort that cause earthquakes as devastating as the one that jolted religion upon publication of his 'The Origin of Species' in 1859.

Soon enough, we learn that he's here to rehash the famous meeting of the British Association at Oxford, England, in which Thomas Huxley (Neal Huff) debated Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.

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