Asking why in the Garden of Eden

Philly Fringe 2023: Kat Siciliano presents Eve

3 minute read
Seen from the back of a few rows of outdoor seating, an ensemble of six performers dressed in black, behind music stands.
The ‘Eve’ ensemble performs in the garden space at MAAS. (Photo by Jordan Sessa.)

South Philly-based composer, lyricist, and singer/songwriter Kat Siciliano opens her musical Fringe show, Eve, with a sequence that might be familiar to most viewers. First light, then sky, then land, plants, and trees—culminating with the creation of a man named Adam and a generous day of rest.

Adam (Matt Sheppard) is guileless and completely devoted both to God and to the beautiful garden in which he’s been commanded to live. Yet, although his delight in nature rivals that of Walt Whitman, Adam wonders at the companionship of the animals and feels lonely in comparison. In response, God liberates a single rib from Adam’s ribcage and creates Eve (played by Siciliano).

Adam is understandably giddy at the thought of spending the rest of his life with a loving companion. But first, there’s an order of business, he tells her: Eden has rules. You can have your pick of fruits in the garden, but for God’s sake, don’t touch the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Eve’s questions

Until this point, a familiar tale. But then—

“Why?” asks Eve.

To which Adam replies, “I don’t know.”

This difference is one of the musical’s well-posited tensions. While Adam takes more pleasure in tending to the garden and being a good son to God the Father, Eve has an eternal thirst to understand the boundaries circumscribing her world. And to her, that thirst feels more like the sensation of love that Adam describes than what she feels toward him.

In whom can Eve confide these thoughts, these questions? God remains silent, and Eve remains alone in her curiosity until the day she discovers a new creature in the garden—a friendly, if sad, angel named Lucifer, injured from a fall.

The two understand one another, and they share the same desire to understand the workings of Earth and the hidden reasonings of a distant and wrathful Heaven.

Eve runs for only 45 minutes, but it packs the punch of a longer production as Eve and Lucifer deepen in their relationship and the circumstances surrounding Lucifer’s fall are revealed. The sung and spoken narration, written by Siciliano and delivered with a steady hand by Chelsea Reed, pushes the story forward without rushing, giving this brief show impressive narrative heft.

A naturally good staging

The staging in a corner of the Cannonball Festival Fringe hub’s MAAS Building Garden seems part and parcel of the performance. With vines creeping toward the playing area, all eyes are directed toward the performers, themselves enclosed in a sort of Eden (though sheltered from both the elements and heavenly eyes with a translucent canvas roof). This spareness of staging only heightens a sense of nature’s wild, almost foreboding abundance.

The success of this production is also a credit to outstanding performances across the small cast; Sheppard’s Adam sings with a clear Christian ballad voice, while Lucifer (Gye) maintains a similar clarity but with a few blues intervals that wouldn’t be out of place in a Randy Newman production. Siciliano and Sheppard imbue their performances with a Disney-esque guileless-ness and enough vocal and emotional force to fill the small venue—and, one hopes, eventually a larger stage.

This is a show to watch; attend if you can. If you can’t make it, the developing full-length musical is also present on Instagram at @evethemusical.

What, When, Where

Eve. By Kat Siciliano. $25 with pay-what-you-can options. Through September 17, 2023, at the MAAS Building Garden, 1320 N 5th Street, Philadelphia. (215) 413-1318 or


The MAAS Building Garden is a ground-floor space, but it does not have an ADA-compliant restroom.

This event does not require proof of vaccination to attend or masks to be worn.

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