Friday, 3 December 2010
Where Adam Stood
Dennis Potter's adaptation of Edmund Gosse's 'Father & Son' was screened in 1976. It is the story of Edmund and his father, the naturalist and minister Philip Gosse. The Gosse household, which is held together by religious piety and strict bible study, is suffering the recent loss of Edmund's mother.
Gosse believes the story of Genesis to be literary true, but his own research into marine life challenges this belief, as does the forthcoming publication of Darwin's 'Origins of the Species by Means of Natural Selection'.
Gosse's conclusion is to place himself 'where Adam stood' - he would see fully grown flora and fauna on the day of his creation, meaning God had created the world fully formed and thereby fitting in with the recent discoveries of fossils showing the natural world was far older than the Bible would suppose.
It is clear to see that even he acknowledges the weaknesses in his own argument, meanwhile the young Edmund too is learning how to play against his father's religious beliefs when he tells how God has allowed him to have a boat he covets in the toy shop window - something his father had forbidden him to even think about.
The play contains two instances of the kind of scenes we are more used to seeing with Potter - a mad woman who attempts to sexually assault Edmund, and depictions of the boy's nightmares, in which he is approached by a Christ figure who tries to lure him into the sea.
The feel of the play, and the scenes on the beach are reminiscent of certain Pre-Raphaelite paintings - this one in particular: WILLIAM DYCE, 'Pegwell Bay, Kent, a Recollection of October 5th 1858'