BWW Review: HAND TO GOD at Alex Theatre
Reviewed by Josh Martin
Aleksandar Vass & Vass Production's take on the play, Hand to God, effectively uses puppetry, black comedy, and physical theatre to give a comical perspective on that little demonic voice that sits on our shoulder, taunting us all.
In this play, nothing is out of the question, our morale compass as an audience and the good Christian souls of the characters are challenged at every-turn as everything from puppet sex, to a forbidden passion between mother and minor is explored.
Hand to God, premiered Off-Broadway in 2011 before successfully being transferred to Broadway in 2015 and going on to be nominated for 5 Tony Awards, including Best Play.
Written to perfection by Robert Askins, Hand to God is set in a small, God fearing, conservative Texas town. We follow Jason, played by multiple AFI and Logie award winner Gyton Grantley, who begins the play in his mother Margery's puppet class, played by Logie and Helpman Award winner Alison Whyte.
Jason's loud-mouthed puppet Tyrone, also played by Grantley immerges fairly quickly as a dominant and destructive force that begins reeking havoc on all the characters, including Jason. The question of who is in control of the lewd Tyrone, Jason or the puppet itself becomes a worrying concern very quickly.
Greenroom award winning Gary Abrahams direction solidity grounds the play in a slightly elevated state of reality that is needed to tell this farcical story of human nature. Jacob Battista's design and Chloe Greave's costumes help support and strengthen Abrahams vision. They all hint at the time frame and age of the characters but leave the final decision up to the audience's imagination.
This production has an esteemed strong ensemble of actors that explore the sometimes confronting subject matter with ease.
Gyton Grantley gives both a strong comic and sincere performance as the shy and timid Jason and also the provocative and obscene puppet Tyrone. He weaves effortlessly between creating each character as unique but also links them together to leave us with the thought, are the two seperate, or is Tyrone a suppressed and twisted representation of Jason's thoughts?
Greenroom award winner Grant Piro is nothing short of hilarious as the socially awkward Pastor Greg, putting his comic genius on display at every twist and turn.
Alison Whyte as Margery and Jake Speer as Timothy use their strong skills in physical comedy to make an inappropriate underage relationship shocking and hilarious.
Morgana O'Reily as Jason's crush Jessica never misses a beat matching Grantley's comic performance with ease in their sex puppet duologue.
Hand to God is well with a visit to contemplate what an who really is that demon our shoulder. It is playing at Alex Theatre, St Kilda until Sunday 18th March.