Off Broadway Theater Review: THE MYTHS WE NEED – OR – HOW TO BEGIN (Purple Rep)

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by Sarah Taylor Ellis on December 13, 2011

in Theater-New York


Creating a fresh twist on the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve is no small feat. Unfortunately, Larry Kunofsky’s The Myths We Need – or – How to Begin  stumbles about with 1920s flare, but with little original insight into what makes us human.

Kunofsky casts Adam and Eve as a couple of low-class workers in the age of Prohibition. The Tomater (Anna Lamadrid) and The Kid (Luke Forbes) are lured into sin – alcohol, apples, and sex – by a husky temptress called The Old Broad (Annie Henk). Needless to say, The Boss (Hugh Sinclair) rants and rails, then beats and banishes them from their ramshackle cabin home.

The Myths We Need – Or – How to Begin by Larry Kunofsky – directed by Jose Zayas - Purple Rep at The Monkey – Off Broadway Theater Review by Sarah Taylor EllisPart of Kunofsky’s The Genesis Tapestries, an “ongoing, ridiculously ginormous work-in-progress of multiple plays inspired by The Book of Genesis,” The Myths We Need makes more than a few missteps. The 1920s dialogue is flashy and fun, but Kunofsky’s voice dominates as he works through frustrations with shame and the concept of God. The actors give fine performances under director Jose Zayas, but the archetypical material is often heavy handed and inhibiting. The abusive Boss feels uncomfortably like a slave owner, and both of the play’s women are wily stereotypes: the wide-eyed virgin and the seductive whore. The play lacks nuance, depth, and shades of the betwixt and between – which is precisely where our humanity lies.

Derek Wright’s lighting design, using natural illumination from three lanterns, is a smart idea but leaves the actors’ faces entirely obscured. Carla Bellisio’s costumes, particularly the dress of sheets for The Tomater, are clever and stylish. Meanwhile, David Margolin Lawson’s sound design shuttles from train whistles to subway tracks, pointing to how the Adam and Eve myth persists with us today.

If only we could achieve a more nuanced take on our myths across that time. The Myths We Need stumbles in the shadows, but perhaps this is how to begin. Hopefully Larry Kunofsky’s in-process project The Genesis Tapestries will find fresh insight in a future play.

photos by Kacey Stamats

The Myths We Need – or – How to Begin
The Monkey in NYC
scheduled to end on December 18
for tickets, visit

{ 1 comment }

Harris December 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Very nice!

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