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Review Roundup: A CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD Opens at Signature Theatre

A Case for the Existence of God unfolds in a cubicle where two seated people unexpectedly choose to bring one another into their fragile worlds.

A Case for the Existence of God

Signature Theatre's world premiere of Samuel D. Hunter's A Case for the Existence of God, directed by David Cromer (Tony Award-winner, The Band's Visit) opened on May 2 on The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 W 42nd St).

A Case for the Existence of God unfolds in a cubicle where two seated people unexpectedly choose to bring one another into their fragile worlds. Keith, a mortgage broker, and Ryan, a yogurt plant worker seeking to buy a plot of land that belonged to his family many decades ago, realize they share a "specific kind of sadness." At this desk in the middle of America, loan talk opens up into a discussion about the chokehold of financial insecurity and a bond over the precariousness of parenthood. With humor, empathy, and wrenching honesty, Hunter commingles two lives and deftly bridges disparate experiences of marginality.

The production's cast includes Kyle Beltran (Keith) and Will Brill (Ryan), and the creative team features Arnulfo Maldonado (Scenic Design), Brenda Abbandandolo (Costume Design), Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Design), Christopher Darbassie (Sound Design), John Baker (Dramaturgy), Katie Young (Production Stage Manager), Patrick McCollum (Fight Consultant), and Caparelliotis Casting (Casting).

See what the critics are saying...

Jesse Green, The New York Times: Perhaps only when people are so comfortable together (the actors were roommates at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama) can discomfort be played and transcended so authentically. Even negotiating Hunter's slight writerly tics - the way he sometimes spins gears to delay the next development - they backfill each moment with a depth of feeling that gives a quiet play, in many ways a comedy, the density of tragedy. It's the kind of tragedy, though, that hurts by means of hope, like land broken up to take seeds. If Ryan began the play not knowing that's what "harrowing" means, he soon learns - as do we.

David Cote, The Observer: As I sat watching two men sit for an extended period in A Case for the Existence of God, I reflected on my own sedentary life. I spend so many hours a day slumped at a desk or on a couch, doing, what, exactly? Working, consuming media, waiting for the sweet deliverance of death? That got dark. So does Samuel D. Hunter's delicate but ambitious two-hander, which tracks the intertwining of stranger souls over 90 minutes. After a while, the men's seated position begins to take on an existential pall-passivity, stasis, despair. When one of them finally stands, in anger, it's like a thunderbolt rips through the theater.

Helen Shaw, Vulture: As a daring bit of self-restriction, Hunter keeps his two characters nearly motionless for almost the entire one-act play. In David Cromer's exquisitely judged, perfectly performed production at the Signature Theater, the two men stay seated in Keith's small cubicle office under a dropped, fluorescent ceiling, the cramped space (filing drawers, monitors, cabinets) suspended like a vivid droplet against designer Arnulfo Maldonado's white cyclorama.

Charles Isherwood, The Wall Street Journal: The slightly daunting, furrowed-brow title of Samuel D. Hunter's new play, "A Case for the Existence of God," might alarm theatergoers uninterested in a fraught theological debate. (Which would be most of them-er, us.) But Mr. Hunter, one of the finest playwrights at work today, is anything but an ideologue. His subject is the complexities of specific human beings-appealingly unexceptional ones-and the trials, large and small, that life throws their way. Mr. Hunter's plays are notable, or rather remarkable, for their laid-back simplicity and the depth of the compassion he shows for his characters.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Theatre Guide: Director David Cromer excels at intimate stories about connection, as seen in his vision of the classic Our Town, the family drama Tribes, and the musical The Band's Visit. Under his direction, Beltran (The Flick, Gloria) and Brill (Oklahoma!) deliver lived-in performances that are rich and real - in short, pitch-perfect.

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