BWW Review: AN ACT OF GOD Descends at the Alley
For those of you who may have been wondering about God's whereabouts, or worrying about his well-being, I can now report that he's alive and well and doing stand-up at the Alley Theatre.
After stints in New York in the person of Sean Hayes, and in LA as Jim Parsons, he has temporarily taken over the body of the Alley's Todd Waite to hold forth in Houston, answering whatever questions you may have, in an effort to set the record straight, as it were.
After a number of millennia - the exact number is murky - misconceptions and hearsay have muddied the waters, and all is not quite as it seemed, it seems.
The Creation? Not as well-planned as it could have been. It was all a little spur-of-the-moment, and mistakes were made, that, in retrospect, could have been avoided.
Adam's original helpmeet was Steve, not Eve. Some adjustments were called for.
Two of every animal on the ark? Get real. It was a boat!
And that's just the Old Testament.
On a set that resembles a waiting room from 2001: A Space Odyssey, God, dressed in resplendent white, with a little bling at the collar - well, after all He IS God - manages to strike a casual tone with a pair of sporty running shoes and a comfortable God-to-Man manner, occasionally addressing the audience on a particularly salient point. He also takes questions, with the help of an increasingly put-upon Michael, who goes into the house with a microphone, from a cross-section of the city, including patrons from River Oaks, Montrose, and The Woodlands. His answers are tailored to the demographics of the areas represented.
Gabriel reads from the Bible from time to time, in the stentorian, King James voice of Feltch, who adds gravity to the proceedings, while Michael becomes less and less inclined to take God's answers at face value, which ultimately results in a nasty incident involving one of her wings. As you might expect, God doesn't take criticism particularly well.
By the time he gets around to the New testament, God has pretty much let it all hang out, and is no mood to coddle his creations.
The Virgin Birth? Well, let's just say that the Holy Mother and God don't see eye-to-eye on that one, or much else, apparently.
The manger scene? A mix-up in reservations.
The Crucifixion? It's complicated.
AN ACT OF GOD is not so much a play as an extended skit. At 80 minutes +, no intermission, it's really more of a comedy routine, albeit a very funny one. SNL on steroids, if you will.
Writer David Javerbaum has given us some funny lines - the audience was in stitches - but it's all of the giggling in church variety, and we've been there before. In fact, we were there just last fall, in exactly the same place, with HAND TO GOD.
I suppose it's a sign of the times; maybe we need the release of impiety right now, when so many of our institutions are moldering on their foundations. It's a guilty pleasure; a welcome relief.
Todd Waite gives us a God with a nudge, nudge, wink, wink delivery appropriate to the material, mugging his way through with a will and a way, charming the audience into acceptance of an outrageous premise.
Director James Black keeps the pace going, and gets out of the way.
So if you like your blasphemy straight, no ice, this is one for you.
AN ACT OF GOD
Through April 16, 2017
Alley Theatre, Neuhaus Stage
615 Texas Avenue, Houston 77002. Contains explicit language and adult content. For tickets, call 713.220.5700 or go online at www.alleytheatre.org.