Review: Take a trip back to ’60s with Driftwood Theatre’s ‘Everything in the Garden’

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From left (back row): Morgan Peeler, Thomas A Glass, Dustin Trabert. Front row: Julia Buck, Elizabeth Camara, Erin Carter

Can I interest you in a play that demonstrates just how money is the root of all evil? Okay, I know, it’s been done before — but never like this!

As part of its Theatre of Intriguing Possibilities, or TIP series, Driftwood Theatre riffs on this age-old predicament with its current production of Everything In The Garden.

This Edward Albee adaptation is a thought-provoking trip back to the mid ’60s. A virtual time machine of martinis, indoor smoking, parental neglect, racism and sexism — with an ample measure of the soul-crushing merry-go-round of living above one’s means, thrown in for good measure.

James Milton nails down the key role of Jack. His character provides intermittent narration throughout the play. Jack is a colorful bon vivant; Milton is perfect for the role given his stand-up comedy background. Apparently, he had the entire cast in stitches throughout rehearsals. It’s hard to describe Milton’s persona, but to say he evokes a sort of cadaverous Elvis complete with impressive sideburns and bouffant hairstyling might give you some inkling.

The primary roles of Jenny and Richard, played by Anne Olsen and Wayne Purves respectively, were engaging. As the play progresses, the actors respond to events in a way that showcases their emotional range and the skill of their craft.

Another standout performance was delivered by young Karsten Lomax. He plays Roger, the son returning from boarding school to parents who are unsure of his age.

Kevin Starkey co-produced Garden. I was lucky enough to run into him after Friday evening’s performance. It was astonishing to discover to what lengths the production crew went to create an entirely monochromatic set and cast. The audience is transported back to the 1960s in what resembles “The Twilight Zone.”

Major kudos to the production team, including lighting, costume and the director, for not only coming up with the idea, but for pulling it off. Starkey was on his way to a theatrical supply company in West Seattle Saturday morning, to wipe out their remaining inventory of “Blue Magic” — the make-up used to achieve the effect of changing flesh and blood into an entirely black-and-white milieu.

A tremendous effort was expended to ”kill the color.” This involved taping the legs of chairs, painting the tips of the cigarettes and scrambling at the last minute to find the proper wig for Jenny — all to avoid any hint of color that would spoil the effect.

Edward Albee’s Everything In The Garden, adapted from the play by Giles Cooper, is directed by Joe Goins. The lighting designer is Rob Falk and costume designer is Celeste Moody.

Don’t miss this chance to see this theatrical achievement, which runs through next Sunday, March 25. Tickets and information: edmondsdriftwoodplayers.org.

— By James Spangler

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