Sunday, June 7, 2015

Review of "An Act of God"

Jim Parsons fans rejoice!  Sing a refrain of the “Hallelujah chorus!”  The actor, best known for his role as Sheldon Cooper in the television program, The Big Bang Theory, stars as The Lord in the new Broadway show, An Act of God.  He is ably assisted by Tim Kazurinksy as archangel Gabriel and Christopher Fitzgerald as the archangel Michael. 

In the beginning of the production God, in the guise of Parsons, takes center stage and informs the audience that instead of speaking to us in his ethereal, rapturous form he decided to take human shape, choosing the actor Jim Parsons to present his heavenly message.  In the next 90 minutes God, a.k.a. Parsons, lectures on a variety of subjects, focusing on a new Ten Commandments.  He compares this greatest of achievements to Don McLean’s song, “American Pie.”  God grumbles that, like the singer with his iconic classic, he has been defined by the Ten Commandments.  This, he announces, is about to change and, with the help of his two assistants, presents the newly created Decalogue one at a time.

Parsons, clad in a white frock, lounges in a chair at the base of Scott Pask’s enveloping vortex of a set, which is enhanced by Hugh Vanstone’s awe-inspiring and beatific lighting and Fitz Patton’s all-powerful and celestial sound design.  He has a folksy patter which gives his almost stream of consciousness musings a disarming and mischievous quality.  He is the center of the universe and commands our undivided attention.  His comedic timing is impeccable as he plays off the audience and his supporting players.  Tim Kazurinksy’s Gabriel is more the straight man in the show while the multi-talented Christopher Fitzgerald as Michael is on the receiving end of some great visual jokes, roams the audience for “questions” to God and adds a bit of sacrilegious drama as he constantly badgers The Lord with piercing inquiries.

Playwright David Javerbaum, a longtime writer for The Daily Show, has based the show on the tweets from his very popular Twitter account, @TheTweetofGod.  The play is hip, topical and comically moralizing.  Sitting in the audience you marvel at where he comes up with the mostly amusing, sometimes wickedly funny, revisionist views on biblical stories, of being omniscience, dealing with celebrities and much more.

Director Joe Mantello manages to walk a fine tightrope by giving Jim Parsons just enough room to maneuver without reining him in too much or allowing the show to spiral out of control.  He successfully integrates the other two actors and the creative staff’s expertise into Parson’s non-stop monologue when a break from all the talk is needed. 

An Act of God, not just for the Big Bang Theory zealots.

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