This ‘Garden’ party is darkly comedic

By Jesse Blair | Mar 23, 2018
Courtesy of: Dale Sutton Wayne Purves and Anne Olsen star in Driftwood Players’ “Everything in the Garden.”

The Driftwood Players’ Theatre of Intriguing Possibilities production of Edward Albee’s “Everything in the Garden” shows how the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. It’s a dark comedy – funny, but not the type of funny that makes you laugh out loud. Gasps, nervous laughs, and subtle remarks from theatergoers were scattered throughout Wade James Theater.

The play is set in mid-20th century America and follows a financially strapped middle-aged couple who recently moved to suburbia. They just can’t seem to keep up with new “friends” they met at the country club.

“I wish we could afford things,” complains Richard (Wayne Purves). “Keep smoking. We’ll get the coupons,” his wife Jenny replies (played by Anne Olson). At one point, she suggests getting a part-time job like a lot of the other women.

“No!” Richard replies forcefully. By no means will he let his wife work. But Jenny does find a job, a well-paying one.

The dialogue is written in such a way that not a phrase, eye roll, or insult between the characters is wasted. One minute, Richard and Jenny would be discussing a divorce. The next, it appears they are soulmates for life. During a dinner party, an inquiring couple asked the age of the couple’s son Roger (Karsten Lomax).

“I’m 12,” he replies. “He’s 14,” corrects Richard. “He’s 15,” asserts Jenny. “I know how old my own son is.”

At the same dinner party, Richard asks one of his guests how the world of high finance is going.

“Just like marriage. Up and down,” the man replies, looking at his wife despondently. “Up and down.”

Perhaps the most likeable and clever character is the swaggering and wealthy Jack (James Milton). Equipped with a $3 million dollar inheritance, Jack struts around town, running his mouth to anyone who will listen, namely Richard and Jenny. In addition to making advances at Jenny, he develops a soft spot for the couple and wants to help them out.

The sets are simple. The whole play takes place offstage or in Richard and Jenny’s living room. The couple’s garden is offstage in the back, so the audience can only assume what it looks like. The characters are all painted white, adding to the irony that things aren’t as black and white as they seem.

Themes of anti-Semitism, racism and sexism are layered into the script. During the dinner party, Richard scolds his son for standing up to a racially bigoted houseguest, then apologizes for his son’s insolence.

The script is smart and the acting is fluid. But viewer beware: The themes are mature and the language is at times harsh.

If you’re looking for laugh-out-loud comedy that makes you feel good, this play isn’t for you.

If you’re looking for an inspiring story where good triumphs over evil, this show isn’t for you.

But if you are looking for a story that examines the dark depths that the power of money can have over people and don’t mind being shocked in the process, then this story is for you.


“Everything in the Garden”

Where: Wade James Theater, 950 Main St., Edmonds
When: Through March 25. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets: $18-$20. Group rates for 10 or more available
Information: www.edmondsdriftwoodplayers.org or 425-774-9600, option 1

 

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