Hand Of God by Arts Club Theatre
Until June 25th
Fearlessly funny and shockingly kind of sweet.
I did not know a lot going into this new comedy except what I read on the press release. It was such a wild and unexpected ride I don’t want to give anything away.
In a church basement a small group of “Christkateers” are participating in a puppet making workshop run by recently widowed Margery. The young teenagers include; her son, the quietly sad Jason, the rebellious bad kid Timothy and the perky but prim Jessica.
Jason is the only one to have finished his puppet and seems to have developed a personality that is a lot more aggressive than him.
I don’t want to reveal anymore of the plot. Just know many of the characters including Tyronne, the puppet, do very audaciously funny things. Often scandalous, if you are easily offended it might not be the show for you.
I will tell you in Act Two there are some heartfelt explanations for some of the antics that satisfactorily justified the sordid stuff for me.
Director Steven Driver has done a cunning job at pushing the envelope with an already cocky script by Robert Askins. He has assembled an amazing team.
Shekhar Paleja is channeling Tobias from Arrested Development as Pastor Greg. Julie Leung is brilliant with her deadpan delivery. Mike Gill is affectingly funny the horny but naive teen. Jennifer Lines is so raw and desperate as the widow that she makes you laugh and cry at the same time.
What can be said about Oliver Castillo? He is breathtakingly specific as he plays both Jason and Tyrone at the same time. He gives a slyly subversive performance that sneaks up on you in both its crassness and it honesty. It’s a star turn.
The set by Brian Ball is detailed and full of little surprises that help with locations changes. Ines Ortner gives wonderful personality to the costumes that she had to make sure would not stain too easily. Jeff Harrison creates some devilishly spooky lighting what when accompanied by James Coomber’s vibrant score creates some chills in the chaos.
Thank you Stephen Drover for making the actors go so far and so deep.
This is a wild almost out of control roller coaster that made me laugh, scream and sometimes stare, mouth open at the brazenness. I say get onboard, without knowing where it is going and then hang on tight. Just bear in mind some people hate roller coasters.
David C. Jones
PS: Mr. Bill Millerd seems to have programmed some really ballsy shows as he prepares to step down as artistic director. We should thank him.