BWW Review: HAND TO GOD at Black Box Performing Arts Center
Teaneck's Black Box Performing Art Center presents 'Hand To God.' Written by Robert Haskins, 'Hand To God' follows the story of Jason, who finds an outlet for his anxiety, after his father's death, at the Christian Puppet Ministry, in the devoutly religious, relatively quiet small town of Cypress, Texas. Jason's complicated relationships with the town pastor, the school bully, the girl next door, and-most especially-his mother are thrown into upheaval when Jason's puppet, Tyrone, takes on a shocking and dangerously irreverent personality all its own. 'Hand To God' explores the startlingly fragile nature of faith, morality, and the ties that bind us.
This production, which deals with real life issues, is both hilarious and very intense and should not be missed! The audience was laughing, gasping in shock and on the edge of their seats every minute. The cast did a wonderful job of taking us through the constant shifting moments of hilarity and severity. The company made great use of the small space they are working with in their black box theater.
Michael Gardiner portrays Jason and the menacing puppet Tyrone brilliantly as he is forced to jump back and forth between the two characters during scenes within seconds. His intense tennis match of depicting the naïve and heartbroken Jason, to the sadistic, foul mouthed puppet, Tyrone is impressively seamless. Gardiner spoke about the challenges of the show, 'The physicality of it, having a whole other character on your arm... The lines helped because it's really well written... but that was definitely the most difficult part... physicality of it, having someone separate from yourself. That was a challenge to work through during rehearsals.'
Joseph Ramondino, Timothy, discussed their one-month rehearsal process, 'We were here basically here every day. The rehearsal period was very important, but we knew what we were doing by the third rehearsal... This was the first show I've done where everybody was on point from the beginning.'
Directed by BBPAC Artistic Director Matt Okin, produced by Black Box Studios, the show features ShAri Cohen as Margery, Michael Gardine as Jason/Tyrone, Sara Giacomini as Jessica, Joseph Ramondino as Timothy and Laurence Wallace as Pastor Greg, with Assistant Director/Production Designer Jason Felix and Stage Manager Sari Rosen.
Performances are: Sunday 9/24 at 8pm, Thursday 9/28 at 8pm, Sunday 10/1 at 8pm, Friday 10/6 at 8pm, Saturday 10/7 at 8pm, Sunday 10/8 at 8pm, Thursday 10/12 at 8pm, Friday 10/13 at 8pm, Saturday 10/14 at 8pm, Sunday 10/15 at 8pm.
Tickets are $30 ($25 for students/seniors) and are now available at www.blackboxpac.com. Group rates for 10 or more are available by calling (201) 357-2221. Tickets can also be purchased at the venue; call (201) 357-2221 for box office hours.
Teaneck's Black Box Performing Arts Center (200 Walraven Drive. (Just off Palisade Ave., GPS: 290 Walraven Drive), Teaneck, NJ 07666.
Writer's Note: The show contains strong language and mature themes and is not recommended for young viewers.