BWW Review: GOD'S FAVORITE Highlights Faith & the Human Condition at A.D. PLAYERS

BWW Review: GOD'S FAVORITE Highlights Faith & the Human Condition at A.D. PLAYERSNeil Simon's GOD'S FAVORITE does what I believe good theatre is intended to do: take a multifaceted, complex topic and present it in a humanized, relatable, and entertaining manner. This can take many forms, and GOD'S FAVORITE pinpoints perhaps one of my favorite forms of theatrical communication: framing a meaningful, hard-to-wrap-your-mind-around concept within the familiar language of comedy.

GOD'S FAVORITE tackles a wealth of topics drawn straight from the human situation: the extent of human faith, temptation and its cost, unjust pain, God's will, and the age-old question "Why do bad things happen to good people?".

Craig Griffin brilliantly plays modern-day Job, Joe Benjamin, who after an adulthood of good fortune and blessings galore is put to the test by God's messenger Sidney Lipton (played by Chip Simmons) to prove his steadfast faith to God. Griffin is the kind of actor who didn't just communicate what the character was supposed to be feeling, but made you feel it too. (As a related, but taken out of context note: I never before realized how uncomfortable itching the bottom of your feet must be until I saw Griffin frantically do so onstage. Go see the show, and that'll make more sense). Earning laughs, gasps, and applause, Griffin wholly embodied the common theme of this play--humanity--in his performance.

BWW Review: GOD'S FAVORITE Highlights Faith & the Human Condition at A.D. PLAYERS
Craig Griffin (Joe Benjamin)
and Chip Simmons (Sidney Lipton)
in GOD'S FAVORITE at A.D. Players.
Photo Credit: Jeff McMorrough

Chip Simmons was another standout performer onstage, who, without giving too much away, had the challenge of playing a character that had many sides of right and wrong entangled into his background. Simmons is an entertainer down to the core, and did a fantastic job of keeping up the pace, and comedy, throughout the show.

Deborah Hope played the lovably naïve, Real Housewives-reminiscent wife to Joe Benjamin, Rose Benjamin. Hope won the audience over immediately within the first sixty seconds of her presence onstage with her lavishly jeweled, purple-feathered entrance and sense of humor to match.

Supporting actors Lindsay Ehrhardt (Sarah Benjamin), Michael Morrison (Ben Benjamin), Matt Harris Anderson (David Benjamin), Niesha Bentley (Mady), and LaBraska Washington (Morris) were all lovable in their own way, and each of their characters served just the right amount of purpose to bolster the whole of the story, thanks to Simon's writing and Director Braden Hunt's guidance.

Ehrhardt and Morrison were delightfully funny as realistic representations of siblings: constantly bickering just enough to bother their parents and getting one another all riled up when chaos inevitably ensued. I found myself paying the most attention to their interactions with each other during the family group scenes, as something humorous was always being delivered from one or both of them in the background if you listened.

Hunt had the task of presenting this show, with both its fast-paced, witty back-and-forth dialogue and its lengthier, more meaningful moments in an engaging way. While the pace seemed noticeably choppy at times, moving from quick wordplay to times where silence remained a bit too long, both rates were necessary to communicate the message of the show in the style it is written in.

Having grown up Catholic, I was familiar with the universal questions of meaning and faith that all of us encounter at one point or another, and I enjoyed seeing a show tackle topics related to religion. However, this is not to say a religious background is necessary, or even recommended, to sit in the audience at this show. I appreciated the manner in which GOD'S FAVORITE presented these moral questions not as a 'religious' thing or a 'church-goer' thing, but as a 'human being' thing.

BWW Review: GOD'S FAVORITE Highlights Faith & the Human Condition at A.D. PLAYERS
Matt Harris Anderson (David Benjamin)
and Craig Griffin (Joe Benjamin)
in GOD'S FAVORITE at A.D. Players.
Photo Credit: Jeff McMorrough

Something I enjoyed most about this production was its universality. I believe theatre is an inclusive art form, and theatre done well can often apply to a wide variety of people. Whether you are a born and raised member of the Church, or you don't care to associate with anything religious or spiritual, this play will not only be entertaining for you, but I guarantee you will be able to find a character whose experience you identify with.

If nothing else about this show appeals to you so far, the set change between Act I and Act II is reason enough to attend. No, seriously. In fifteen years of attending Houston theatre, I have never seen anything like the feat that Scenic Designer Liz Freese pulled off onstage during an intermission. Again, without giving too much away, I'll say that the entire audience united in an awestruck gasp as the curtain rose upon Act II. Yes, it's that good. Costume Designer Danielle Hodgins had a similar challenge to take on, as the characters' world vastly changed from the beginning of the story to the end.

As a whole, I admired how Simon's show posed and attempted to answer the unanswerable questions we as humans face when grappling with meaning, purpose, and faith.

God's Favorite opened at the AD Players on July 13th and will run through August 5th. Performances are at the George Theater at 5420 Westheimer Road. Showtimes are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm. Visit or call the Box Office at 713-526-2721 for tickets and information.

Photo Credit: Jeff McMorrough

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