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Review: MAN OF GOD at Williamstown Theatre Festival

Review: MAN OF GOD at Williamstown Theatre Festival

A Powerful Return to "Normality" for WTF

Review: MAN OF GOD at Williamstown Theatre Festival
Ji-young Yoo & Shirley Chen
Photo: Stephanie Berger

Four teenage girls from Southern California on a mission trip to Bangkok discover a camera hidden by their pastor in their hotel bathroom. Do they leave it to God or take matters into their own hands? The pressure builds quickly in this suspenseful comedy that interrogates justice, privacy, religion, the patriarchy, and who you follow on Instagram. Juxtaposing girl power with teenage angst, the girls' different ideals emerge as they discover what it takes to fight back. Maggie Burrows returns to Williamstown to direct this funny feminist thriller by newcomer Anna Ouyang Moench.

Review: MAN OF GOD at Williamstown Theatre Festival
Erin Rae Li
Photo: Stephanie Berger

The cast includes Emma Galbraith as Jen, Erin Rae Li as Mimi, Albert Park as Pastor, Ji-Young Yoo as -Kuang-Hwa (7/5-15), Helen J Shen as Kuang-Hwa (7/5-15) Shirley Chen as Samantha (7/5-7/15), Kristen Lee as Samantha (7/17-22). Along with amply creepy Albert Park, the women are a strong and well-balanced group each displaying a unique stereotypically teenage personality type along with their own version of teen angst and/or baggage. During the course of the 90-minutes (no intermission) of action, each has the opportunity to shine as they present their own inner thoughts as to how she will rise-up and face their adversary. Making the one male figure pay, not only for the betrayal at hand, but also various injustices and wrongs suffered at the hands of others in each of their relatively young lives.

Review: MAN OF GOD at Williamstown Theatre Festival
Albert Park
Photo: Stephanie Berger

While the subject matter dealt with in MAN OF GOD is essentially dark and disturbing; Moench's script, and the talented ensemble of performers, provide a surprising volume of laughter. The blend is quite masterful really. The presentation begins with a group of girls we laugh at, as well as with. By the end, we find ourselves thinking deeply about each of the young women, who they have become, what will become of them; as well as how women in general have been treated throughout history, and currently. The relevancy to current events / issues such as Me Too, Feminism, Sexism, Abuse of Power, Patriarchal Systemic Inequality, Masculine Toxicity, My Body - My Rights, See Something - Say Something ... abound. Will these dynamic, seemingly "ordinary / normal" young women persist, or give in and conform to the overwhelming pressure and go along to get along?

Review: MAN OF GOD at Williamstown Theatre Festival
Shirley Chen
Photo: Stephanie Berger

The creative team includes Sehyun Oh Scenic Design, Denits Bliznakova Costume Design, Lap Chi Chu Lighting Design, Johnathan Snipes Original Music and Sound Design, thomas isao morinaka Fight Director, Tia Harewood-Millington Stage Manager, Lucy Houlihan Assistant Stage Manager, Justin Bell for Aurora Productions Production Management. Their work compliments the script, direction, and acting very well to help achieve and deliver a very strong and unique theatrical experience.

MAN OF GOD is full, rich, entertaining, poignant, and deeply thought provoking. It is a solid new piece that packs many a punch. It takes viewers to the very edge without going over. Performances continue through July 22 on the Nikos Stage at Williamstown Theatre Festival.

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From This Author - Marc Savitt

Marc Savitt has a life-long passion for, and association with the performing arts, particularly Musical Theatre. He has performed with choral groups in several US cities, and London, and appears on... (read more about this author)

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