The eternal mystique of romantic relationships and the question of how much they have to do with scientific chemistry vs. sexuality and spirituality, alongside the link between creativity and passion, are among the heady ideas explored in Kathryn Walat’s airy drama "Creation," now in its world premiere run in the lavishly equipped Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena.
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.
Fast-rising evolutionary biologist Ian (Jonathan McClain) has a career as successful as that of his pathologist wife, Sarah (Deborah Puette), and this duo seems like a model couple-though perhaps only on the surface. On the day he turns 40, during a boating expedition, Ian is struck by a bolt of lightning, in what seems a sure-fire catastrophe. But Sarah manages to resuscitate him. Was this occurrence an act of divine intervention?
The mishap leads to unexpected repercussions in the couple’s relationship and lives, though a colleague of Sarah’s-a self-assured neurologist, the Lebanese-American Amal (Ethan Rains) initially tells her that any possible effects this occurrence had on Ian’s brain won’t be significant.
When Ian meets and befriends Zach (Ethan Rains), a budding gay composer, some very definite changes in the biologist’s motivations and ambitions gradually become apparent. He develops an almost mystical fascination with music that he claims to hear internally, followed by an overwhelming desire to venture into creative endeavors, rather than the scientific disciplines of his chosen career.
Eventually, all four characters appear to be affected by the act of nature that came upon Ian, as their interactions reflect changes in each of them. A series of individual epiphanies greatly affect their mental processes, personal values, and particularly their affairs of the heart.
Dormant dissatisfactions in the marriage of Ian and Sarah become apparent, and a spontaneous sexual attraction erupts between Sarah and the smooth-talking, seductive Amal. This abrupt shift in Sarah’s emotional equilibrium also causes her to rethink aspects of her professional life. A close friendship develops between Ian and Zach, though an unexpected breach of ethics might pose a challenge to their bond.
Matching the typical Boston Court standards, the design elements are wonderfully supportive -- astonishingly evocative of the internalized and external terrain of the play. Bruno Kouchouaron’s original music and sound effects cast an intoxicating spell. Andrew J. Hungerford’s lighting, François-Pierre Couture’s appropriately chilly set, and Adam Flemming’s projection design are likewise brilliantly effective.
McClain and Puette superbly evoke the complexities of a relationship and the difficult challenges of reassessing aspects of our life that we had wanted to believe were comfortable and sturdy.
Amal brings humor and vigor to his role as a catalyst to Sarah’s reawakening while grappling with life uncertainties of his own. Silver, provides the buk of the comic relief, as the eccentric but witty artiste, though the actor should watch an occasional tendency to not project some of his line endings.
In some ways overstuffed and in other ways undernourished, Walat’s script feels less coherent than she apparently intended. The messiness and unpredictably of life can be ripe for thematic exploration, but some of the dots that aren’t connected here seem to result from a dramatic conception that hasn’t reached full fruition.
Yet the play is funny and touching, and there’s more than enough intriguing ideas to ponder, making this a very recommendable theater experience.
"Creation" runs through November 11 at Theatre @ Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. For info or tickets, call 626-683-6883 or visit www.bostoncourt.com.