The more things change, the more they stay the same, and Edward Albee's 1967 drama "Everything in the Garden," playing at Saddleback College, is a case in point. But this production runs into problems making any intended parallels to today stick.
Twenty years ago, Albee focused his microscope on distorted American values in this caustic study of suburban life, writing about a call-girl ring made up of suburban housewives who want to bring in a little extra cash (tax-free, yet) to provide for life's essentials, such as private school tuition, country club dues and fresh caviar. His attack on life styles that promote form over substance and substitute materialism for morals takes on fresh resonance in contemporary times--times that offer slogans such as "Living Well Is the Best Revenge" and "The Difference Between a Man and a Boy Is the Price of His Toys" on bumper stickers, times in which yuppiedom has elevated conspicuous consumption to an art form.
But the comparison isn't quite that neat. There remains an unshakable residue left over from the 1960s that is distracting. It was a decade of exaggerations, and one that is difficult not to caricature. At Saddleback, the distractions start with the look of the production itself. Set designer Wally Huntoon and costume designer Charles Castagno have faithfully re-created the now-kitschy look of the '60s (remember pole lamps, bouffant flips, white lipstick and plastic go-go boots?), but it sparks a gleeful, wincing recognition that makes it all too easy to put distance between then and now.