A friend of mine, Hillary Stirling, and I have this tradition going where she reviews all the plays of mine that she attends and then I like to post them. I love her reviews because she always puts her "literary hat" on and gives a very thought provoking reflection on my texts, often dwelling on symbolism, theme, and archetype. So, although somewhat self serving, I'm posting her review here:
I need to preface my comments on Farewell to Eden with a personal note. I’m not a fan of British period pieces. When I was forced to read Sense and Sensibility in college, I found myself bored to tears. After more than two hundred pages, I threw down the book in disgust, wishing that one of the characters would pull out a knife and stab someone just so the plot could go somewhere. It was only my confidence in the playwright that convinced me to see Farewell to Eden, and I’m pleased to report that confidence was well-founded. (I also add the disclaimer that my background is in literature rather than theater and, while the acting was skillful, my ignorance keeps me from complimenting it beyond that.)
Though a Victorian period piece, Farewell to Eden struck me as surprisingly Shakespearean. The lead character, Georgiana Highett, is a Beatrice without a Benedict, a sharp wit and sharp tongue and both equally untamable. The plot’s twists and turns balance the interpersonal explorations nicely, and not just because a dagger is actually involved this time. No character is allowed to remain flat and everyone, from the Highetts to the hired help to Darrel Fredericks, the requisite rake, sparkle with life on the stage. As simply entertainment, Farewell to Eden is engaging, well-written, and well worth the price of admission.
However, in my view, the mark of a literary masterpiece is that it can be enjoyed on multiple levels. I deal in archetypes, and their unexpected and skillful use in this play was a pleasant surprise. When attempting to flatter and woo Georgiana, Darrel compares her to a Greek goddess, and she asks which one, prompting “Artemis, goddess of the hunt? Athena, goddess of wisdom?” and he replies, “Aphrodite, goddess of beauty.” I would answer, “None of the above.” If she is a Greek goddess Georgiana is Hera, the implacable queen of her domain who even boldly declares “God is not welcome in this house.” At one point, she is likened to a queen while clothed in royal blue. There are hints of Persephone in her, though, the cold “mortician’s wife” who thaws to life over the course of the play.