BWW Review: Demon Sock Puppet Terrorizes Teenager in Funny, Moving HAND TO GOD at triangle productions!
Repressed feelings are never a good thing. Emotions that have been held in often sneak out in destructive ways, like health problems, self-medicating, or a demon sock puppet. In HAND TO GOD, it's the last one that terrorizes teenage Jason. While it may sound funny (which it is, in parts) the play, part of triangle productions' 28th season, asks us to take a look at the darker parts of ourselves and realize that we all wrestle with our own personal demons. And no one escapes unscathed.
Robert Askins' HAND TO GOD made plenty of headlines in New York, where it ran both on and off Broadway and was nominated for five Tonys, including Best Play, in 2015. Most of those headlines were about Tyrone, who, as a sock puppet, isn't your ordinary Broadway character.
HAND TO GOD is set in a church basement in a small, conservative town in Texas, where Margery is trying to get over the recent death of her husband by teaching a group of teenagers - Timothy, Jessica, and Jason (Margery's son) - to serve God through Christian puppet ministry. But Jason's puppet, Tyrone, isn't exactly someone you'd want in the pulpit. He's foul-mouthed and violent, giving expression to all of usually meek Jason's pent-up feelings, which are typical of a teenage boy, but complicated by the loss of his dad.
Of course, Jason isn't the only one with demons to exorcise. Everyone has something. And we'd better hope we can destroy them before they destroy us.
This play definitely isn't for everybody. It's vulgar and violent, and some may find it irreverent. But while vulgarity and violence are normally turn-offs for me, I liked it very much.
Caleb Sohigian delivered an awesome performance as Jason/Tyrone, which requires quick vocal switches as well as some impressive physical maneuvering. It all starts off pretty tame, with Jason and Tyrone practicing Christian songs and Abbott & Costello's classic "Who's on First" routine. Where Sohigian's talent really shines through is later, when Tyrone becomes uncontrollable and he finds himself in a fight for his life (or at least for his soul) with his own right hand. Sarah Lucht was also excellent as Margery, a woman undone by grief (for herself as much as for her husband) who has no resources left to deal with anything very adaptively, including her troubled son.
Under Don Horn's direction, Triangle's HAND TO GOD wasn't as funny I expected it to be. It was more disturbing. And that's a good thing because it's the psychological drama that gives the "shock factor" elements their meaning.
HAND TO GOD runs through September 30. More info and tickets here.