Review: A CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD at ACT

A stunning two person show filled with heart.

By: Feb. 09, 2024
Review: A CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD at ACT
Review: A CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD at ACT
Conner Neddersen and Nathaniel Tenenbaum
in A Case for the Existence of God at ACT.
Photo credit: Rosemary Dai Ross

If you’re unfamiliar with the playwright Samuel D. Hunter, Dear Readers, you shouldn’t be.  His latest, “A Case for the Existence of God”, currently playing at ACT, isn’t the first of his we’ve seen in the area.  We were blessed with his “A Great Wilderness” back in 2014, plus his “The Whale” which first got a workshop at the Icicle Creek Theatre Festival, not to mention it’s latest life as an Oscar winning film in 2022.  His raw takes on modern lives are exhilarating and his current production at ACT is no different.

This stunning two-hander centers on Ryan (Conner Neddersen), a man trying to secure a loan to buy a plot of land that used to be in his family, and Keith (Nathaniel Tenenbaum) the mortgage broker trying to help make that happen.  Over the course of the months to get this loan going, the two develop a friendship, in no small part to their infant children, Ryan with his daughter Krista as he tries to navigate custody stemming from his divorce, and Keith with Willa, a foster child who Keith is constantly in danger of losing to Willa’s biological Aunt as he navigates the adoption process. 

Hunter does here what he does best, starting with a seemingly simple situation and unveiling the complexity of life as he peels back the layers.  And with each layer we expose the raw nerves of these characters.  And all done with honest, and natural dialog.  And deftly aiding in this is ACT’s Artistic Director, John Langs, who is no stranger to staging these small shows and making them feel huge.  His staging of these two lone characters never feels static or boring and he always manages to elicit incredible performances.

And speaking of incredible performances, Neddersen and Tenenbaum bring in some stunners.  Each of them with their own individual quirks and flaws yet each able to bond over common fears and troubles.  And in a two person show like this it can easily turn into a back and forth of “who’s owning this scene” but the two of them share the stage with the other so beautifully, you never feel like they’re vying for attention.  And as the story escalates, both show off some heartbreaking vulnerabilities, right up to the surprising ending.

Also, kudos to a seemingly simple set and lighting design from Parmida Ziaei and Connie Yun.  It may have started as a simple one locale kind of show, but they managed to fill worlds as the show went on, right down to the final gorgeous reveal. 

This is one of those shows that might fly under the radar.  It’s simple, with no big flashy elements.  Just two people talking.  But with this cast and creative team, you want to experience these two people talking.  And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give “A Case for the Existence of God” at ACT a “fine Samuel D. Hunter, just rip my heart out again” YAY.  The title may throw some a bit.  Not a lot of religious banter in this one.  Just people being people.

“A Case for the Existence of God” performs at ACT through February 18th.  For tickets or information visit them online at www.acttheatre.org.




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