BWW Review: AN ACT OF GOD, The Vaults
After being on Broadway twice, God has finally arrived to London. And She's a woman! A lesbian, specifically comedian Zoe Lyons.
Displeased with how people have been taking Her Ten Commandments too literally, She's decided to descend onto Earth to give a new, updated, and more modern list first-hand so not to be misinterpreted once again. She's accompanied by Her two best Archangels, Michael (Matt Tedford) and Gabriel (Tom Bowen), who will help Her answer people's questions and set things straight for the future of the universe.
David Javerbaum's @TheTweetofGod has become a phenomenon on Twitter, raking up over six million followers through his quite secular view of the Lord. The account served as the basis for the original engagement of the play starring The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons as the title character. An Act of God has since gone through the same process as its Ten Commandments, and has been revised and brought up to date as well as somewhat Anglicised (even Prince Andrew and John Lewis's Excitable Edgar get to be name-checked!) by the playwright for its European premiere.
A proud and disillusioned woman, God rages quickly and Her egomaniacal tendencies do not help with Her dissatisfaction with the human race. She is sick and tired of their ignorance and blatant disregard for the core sentiment of Her teachings, so it's time for Her to take action.
Javerbaum has Her chatting away like a best mate, delectably sacrilegious and oh-so-cutting in Her humour under Benji Sperring's direction. In this incarnation, She wears silk nightwear instead of the show's classic ivory robe, and She's seemingly about to go to bed rather than lounging on a spotless white sofa like in the earlier versions, elements that only add to the weariness of Her spirit.
Riff after riff, She tackles all our worldly issues, touching on the fact that She's unquestionably fine with homosexuality ("Thou art all equally smiteable in Mine eyes") and even sprinkling holy water around when Brexit comes up. She applies Her own logic to Michael's existential questions, using Gabriel as Her occasional mouthpiece to deliver Her New Commandments (which she sends him in the form of Tweets, obviously). A layer of disenchantment coats Javerbaum's script, who manages to encapsulate the socio-political climate of this end of the decade perfectly in his piece.
Lyons is diabolically glorious. Blasé and pompous, she is snarky and cynical with her caustic remarks but assured in the comedown to the more somber moments, which she swats away to go back to her satire. She keeps her sidekicks on a tight leash: Bowen's becomes a Goody Two-Shoes jock who jumps at her every whim, while Tedford's Michael - the channel between them and mortals - is marginally more rebellious and impertinent in his requests.
The show establishes a celestial balance among his thematic lines, juggling the prominence of its politics with lighter jabs and the world of culture and entertainment. Ultimately, An Act of God takes a grim look at the state of society under a glitzy enamel of precise comedy. After all, no one else but God Herself could ever give a better misanthropical summary of 2019.
Image courtesy of Geraint Lewis