The Creation of the World and Other Business

[The following review appeared in the Denver Post on Friday, March 19th.]

Using the original Hebrew version of Genesis 1:1 through 4:16 as his basis, Arthur Miller builds a meditation on the Judeo-Christian spiritual and psychological questions that permeate the western mind and, by extension, the world. The departure of this allegorical form from Miller's famous tragic works did not sit kindly with the critics when The Creation of the World ... was first produced in 1972, but at this distance the classical overtones are evident.

Heather Schroeder as Eve and Jason Maxwell as Adam
Heather Schroeder as Eve
and Jason Maxwell as Adam
Photo: Wade Wood
Director Rick Bernstein draws upon metaphorical forces in the form of four angels who bring forth ethereal forces through a series of expressive modern dances—choreographed by Missy Moore and set to El Armstrong's compelling mix of sound and effects. The angels also provide symbolic as well as spoken commentary on the action.

Miller's humor is in good form as he considers the thoughts of G-d (Chris Kendall), Lucifer (Christian Mast), Adam (Jason Maxwell), and Eve (Heather Schroeder) in the Garden of Eden in Act I. G-d says he had clay left over when he finished the chimpanzees, so he experimented.

Chris Kendall as G-d
Chris Kendall as G-d
Photo: Wade Wood
Adam wonders why he, of all animals, doesn't have a mate. When G-d agrees to make a woman, Adam asks if he will have to talk with her all time. LOL! After G-d does his thing with the rib, Adam and Eve don't know how to follow through on the "go forth and multiply" thing; so, Lucifer plays Iago to G-d's Othello, counseling that for sex to occur in humans—who, unlike other mammals, don't have an estrus cycle—they need to know how things work.

Kendall's G-d is genial and patient, an avuncular gardener of sorts, as he discusses the naming of things with Adam. Maxwell's fresh immediacy easily translates into the joy and pride that Adam takes in his work. Schroeder is a voluptuous Eve, with a curiosity that exceeds Adam's ability to answer, even before the apple.

Christian Mast as Lucifer
Christian Mast as Lucifer
Photo: Wade Wood
Cast out of the Garden, Adam and Eve walk directly into Act II and wander the desert, scrounging for food and longing for the good old days when they were tight with G-d. They don't understand why Eve has grown large with child and are tempted by Lucifer to see this as an encumbrance and punishment.

Mast is in fine form as the slithering, silver-tongued, seditious angel, as much a part of the subtext as the story. After intermission, in Act III, with contemporary sets and costumes, his Lucifer lays the groundwork for G-d's disgust and departure, by coaxing Cain to kill his brother Abel. The most sublime moment follows, when G-d marks Cain, who turns to face us. What Miller says in this moment is a treatise unto itself.

(Left to right) Missy Moore, Jonny Schroeder, and Melissa D. Zarb as the Angels
(L to R) Missy Moore,
Jonny Schroeder,
and Melissa D. Zarb
as the Angels
Photo: Wade Wood
Erin Leonard's set takes in Eden (an impressive trunk and canopy that envelop the stage), the desert (a series of stony outcroppings), and a family terrace (garden furniture); Bernstein's staging ties these worlds together and brings them home.

Miller's language (at times poetic, then colloquial) and the formality of the biblical text dictate a mix of styles that run from dramatic and melodramatic to comedic and even farcical, creating a hybrid texture as disquieting as life itself. The journalistic nature of Genesis, however, works against the depth of character development required to deliver a catharsis, despite Abel's death and the best efforts of the cast.

Ultimately, Miller delivers a modern morality play adorned with classical elements: In the end, like Portia, Adam appeals to G-d for mercy, to which we say Amen.

The Creation of the World and Other Business runs through April 24th at the Victorian Playhouse. 303-433-4343 or

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