Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The setting is surrealistic: eyes in triangular frames hover above the stage, occasionally "crying" white balloon tears. An abstract tree made from metal ribbons, hung with balloons, is the major piece of scenery, and when the balloons burst (as they do throughout the 80-minute performance), they release clouds of colored dust.
In this version of the Genesis story, Cain (Ryan Sellers) and Abel (Dallas Tolentino) both outlive Adam (Scott Brown) and Eve (Tori Bertocci), and Cain's act of violence against Abel is rooted in sorrow rather than anger or jealousy. Cain is fascinated by evil and pain and, inspired by a dark angel (Kathy Gordon) with punkish red hair and a sleek black leather costume, he finds various ways of dominating and punishing those around him, from debauched parties in ancient Rome through contemporary media manipulation.
Interestingly, while God (Philip Fletcher) sets up the situation, he doesn't do much to help Cain after branding him with the "mark" on his chest. The dark angel may push Cain toward destruction, but she's there for him in a way God isn't.
Sellers, Tolentino, and Fletcher lead a cast of Synetic regulars who understand the company's methods of expression: gravity-defying poses, contortions, tableaux that include stylized orgies and people clambering over each other. Parts of the work may be mystifying, but they're never less than fascinating.