BWW Review: The Funky Reality of Shaw's GOD OF MARZ
I'm sure that many of us can envision what our ideal existence would look like: some may want large sums of money, others notoriety and others yet a satisfying sense of pride in their accomplishments. We focus so much on goals that bring purpose to our lives, that we become almost infallible in our quest to attain whatever it is our hearts desire - entitled, if you will, in believing that our actions and opinions are always in the right. As the saying goes, "empty barrels make the most noise." Of course there are the selfless - people who empathize with others and not simply parade around with an inflated ego and undeserved sense of importance. Yet, most of us would drive the sanest person mad, even compelling God to mess around with our beliefs of where we "think" we can find her, but in actuality she resides on Mars enjoying rather human pleasures. Yes, you heard that right - God is a woman, and she is kick-ass.
Written by Rachel Shaw, God of Marz takes us out of the human mind and into the realm of the Almighty, who is quite the character and as beautifully human as we can imagine her to be; she is the way I envision God to be (and hope that she is). When two astronauts crash-land on Mars with a limited supply of oxygen and a minute chance of survival, God welcomes them into her home and offers her direct (and sometimes offensive but oh-so-true) observations of the human race. Testing the breadth of these two astronauts' beliefs is only a part of the fun to be had in the presence of our Oprah-loving Lord, who is equally thrilled and perturbed by the company she keeps.
Presented by Red Planet Theater Company, directed/choreographed by Glenn Giron and now in performances at TBG Theater, God of Marz is such a lovely production that combines reality and belief, putting what is wrong with our world into such clear perspective. Combining some philosophy, modern-day thinking and questionable possibilities, both religious and worldly beliefs are given a run for their money when brought to hardly expected light. Shaw's play deduces what is truth and what is fiction, then asks us to "consider" what is right or wrong when presented by the ultimate authority. This authority, by the way, is someone's Jewish aunt reminiscent of Barbra Streisand (LOVE IT). God is a hoot - a charismatic, free spirit who speaks her mind and enjoys her liquor over an episode of The Kardashians. In the midst of her blatancy is she also maternal, watching over her earthly creations while bringing her wisdom to the forefront; she isn't afraid to tell people when they are wrong, even though it is hard to admit to personal error in our generation.
Even in the presence of God do we wish to be seen and heard, but obviously being inadvertently faulted for the effort. For example, Kelly is a vegetarian but will wear clothing made by slaves in foreign countries. She is also extremely uptight, held together by her unwavering belief in power and self control. She complains about all of the wrong in the world, while Telly has fought and killed for the hope in seeing this destruction cease. While Kelly and many like her are perpetually happy to remain unhappy, unwilling to believe in a merciful higher power, Telly humbles himself before the Almighty and reacts to God's presence as a child would to his long lost mother. One of the most beautiful moments in the show is when he reminisces about his friend Ramos, who was lost in battle; God confirms that Ramos has been safe with her for a long time.
Not only does God teach us that being human is ok, but that being so in her image is even better; we just have to embrace life as a gift and not be - simply put - an utter idiot about it. We have much to learn from God, who watches her creations with a sense of bemusement but also cares for us because we are her own. She also wishes for us to treat each other with respect, but that's a long time coming.
So, in the midst of finding God and Jesus living on Mars, happily isolated from humanity until compelled to next become involved, there are some very unique and flavorful ideas circulating around this play's plot. I absolutely loved this show because of its mix of an overwhelming reality with the added drama of the otherworldly. The show isn't just some farfetched idea that God is particularly how we believe he (or she) is to be perceived. It questions ours beliefs: can God (and Lucy down in hell) actually be women, and can they be found on a distant planet? This production, aside from its humor, moments of mind-blowing clarity and a rather wacky nature, is really quite unique because of how it beckons the unthinkable to happen within a second of reality checking out. But what is reality, and how can our perception change in the blink of an eye?
Between God's obsession with daytime TV (she's a fan of Maury!), Jesus' ambition to cause trouble with a martini in hand and Kelly's/Telly's continuous lack of chemistry suddenly made right, there is so much to love about this new (and quite possible) vision of what lies beyond. And aren't we all so willing to believe that there is a greater power out there, and that power is just like us? It's comforting, making life not seem as serious as we tend to make it be.
That, mixed with Rachel Sheen's beautiful acrobatic display when representing the woman on the moon, tops this production as one of my favorites. At only a little over an hour, there are laughs, bouts of very well-acted anger and sudden sexual attraction, all happening on Mars where humans can't breath.
Kudos to a great cast that is as talented as they are entertaining. The cast list for each show alternates, but I had the pleasure of seeing Rachel Sheen, Ray Fanara, Laura Leigh Carroll, Chandler Converse and Adam Chisnall bring "God of Marz" to life. Thank you also to Mark Lazeski, who composed original music for the production, Executive Producer Tony Notarberardino, Stage Manager Kaitie Fann, Production Manager Sean McGrath, Scenic Designer John Shaw and Lighting Designer Nick Chavin, who helped bring this story to its supernatural heights.
God of Marz began performances at TBG Theater (located at 312 W. 36th Street) on May 30th, and will run thru June 15th for a total of 28 performances. Tickets are $35 for adults/$20 for seniors and students, and can be purchased by visiting clicking here. The performance schedule is as follows: Monday thru Sunday at 8:30 pm and Thursday thru Sunday at 6:00 pm. The runtime is 75 minutes with no intermission.
Photo Credit: Steve Zak