‘An Act of God’
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 1 Jeanne Jugan Lane, Latham
WHEN: Through Aug. 14
HOW MUCH: $28
MORE INFO: 518.877.7529, or curtaincalltheatre.com
By PAUL LAMAR
For The Daily Gazette
LATHAM- Behind the mask my mouth was moving, sometimes forming a relaxed smile, occasionally tensing, and a few times opening up for a laugh, all because my brain was straining to find the rhythm of “An Act of God,” by David Javerbaum, an Emmy-winning writer for The Daily Show. After 85 uninterrupted minutes, I still hadn’t quite found it.
Along the way, however, I admired Curtain Call’s production, under Patrick White’s clever direction, and enjoyed moments of silliness, satire, and pathos.
“An Act of God” features a Judeo-Christian God (Bill Schein) and two of his archangels, the light-hearted and compliant Gabriel (Rich Marshall) and querulous Michael (Scott Wasser), as God offers us a new version of the Ten Commandments because we have misunderstood his first intentions or have taken matters into our own hands.
At the end of the play, God sets off to create a universe 2.0 and confesses that his best advice is not for us to believe in him but rather to believe in ourselves; and if there’s a thoughtful point to the play, this is it. Let’s take care of our own human destiny, together!
What are some of these new commandments? The second has to do with sex, a subject that often gets us into trouble. God says that the original Garden of Eden story DID, in fact, feature Adam and Steve (a mocking of the fundamentalist anti-gay cry that the original couple was not Adam and Steve), but the snake got into the mix and ruined this scenario. OK–but this conceit, like others elsewhere, is weighed down by lengthy explanation and slightly sophomoric humor.
Commandment #3 says thou shalt not kill in God’s name. Good idea.
Commandment #4 addresses the separation of church and state. Right on!
Commandment #8 says thou shalt honor thy children. A thought-provoking inversion of #4 in the original.
Andy Nice’s scenic design of God’s living room—brightly lit, with a comfy sofa, a bar cart, and sliding doors upstage that, presumably, lead to infinity—is pitch-perfect. This God is self-satisfied! Beth Ruman’s costumes are crisp, white robes—with down-to-earth sneakers. Paul M. Radasso’s lighting, Alex Dietz-West’s sound, Peter Max’s set construction, and Cecilia Widomski’s stage management complete the fine tech work that always characterizes Curtain Call productions.
Marshall and Wasser handle the stage business well, and when you can take your eyes off of God, you’ll enjoy the angels’ reactions to the challenges of working for such an unpredictable boss.
It’s difficult, however, to take your eyes off of God because White and Shein have shaped this divine creature into a seemingly calm, cool, and collected dude, someone who enjoys telling us about himself. Shein’s brilliant handling of the pages and pages of text and the twinkle in his eyes go a long way to keeping us interested.
Kudos to White and producing artistic director Carol Max for successfully bringing out ideas and humor in a script that is sometimes self-defeating.
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