By Patrick Hurley
The almighty has decided to return to the world to clear up a few misinterpretations that two thousand plus years of exegesis has gotten wrong. And since he’s decided to return to Los Angeles, he takes, as his corporeal host, irrepressible sitcom star Sean Hayes. And who doesn’t want to see Sean Hayes as God? Good thing you don’t have to imagine how fabulous that would be, it’s actually happening in Act of God, the wonderfully funny new play by David Javernaum, playing now at the Ahmanson Theatre.
So we have God. In the form of Will & Grace star Sean Hayes, whom God assures us has no idea he’s even there. God has returned with a new dispensation, namely a restructuring of the Ten Commandments. Joining God for this new dispensation are his two most trusted and faithful Archangels. Gabriel (James Gleason) who stands at a microphone and is there to quote bible passages, and Michael (David Josefsberg) a humanist, who elicits questions from members of the audience, and comes up with some of his own. However, Michael’s questioning of the almighty does not bode well for him, nor his angel wings.
David Javerbaum has written a topical, and blisteringly funny show. As the program alludes, it is based on the memoir by God, and subsidized entirely by angels. This production aims at irreverence in a sweet and mostly innocuous way. It does, like other shows that poke fun at religion, takes it’s shots at the crazy interpretations of religion and not the religion itself. Therefore, when a Family Feud style tablet appears to reveal the new, updated Ten Commandments, it is to remove the inaccurate interpretations that man has placed centuries of faith into, and not the faith itself. God has returned, in the form of Sean Hayes, to set the record straight. And so, as he takes us through the new Commandments, he does just that.
From the true story of what happened in the Garden of Eden, mainly that Eve was an alternate plan when Adam and Steve went awry. To the explanation of the unseen hilarity in the Book of Job, a story God himself can’t get through without cracking up. He gives us his insight into homosexuality, abortion, a solid argument against second amendment enthusiasts claim to a “God-given right to bear arms.”
He goes on a tangent about masturbation, and gives us the history of his middle son Jesus, the early years. Yes, his middle son, another overlooked fact missing from the bible. There’s talk of nearly every topic that most social liberals will find to be a little preaching to the choir, and one really off-color, albeit quite funny comment about the holocaust, as it relates to the musical Cabaret, that may be the most strikingly shocking line of the evening. And one that did garner a few groans from the very liberal Los Angeles crowd. For the most part, however, the tone of the show is a positive one.
Director Joe Mantello caters to the incredible comedic chops of his star. This is a total showcase for Sean Hayes, who delightfully chews the scenery in true Jack McFarland fashion, and leaves everyone in the audience wanting more. His deft comic timing allows him to sit on a couch for most of the show without losing an ounce of energy. The show blazes by at lightning speed and mostly because Mr. Hayes revels in every drop of humor he can squeeze from the role. It’s a sight to see.
David Josefsberg adds some nice tension as the over-questioning Michael, and James Gleason is wonderfully deadpan as Gabriel, and he and God, as played by Sean Hayes strike a nice balance.
The set, by scenic designer Scott Pask, is also a sight to behold. It’s larger than life and glaringly white, giving a celestial and reverent feel to the evening’s proceedings.
When all is said and done, this production is truly funny. The downside is the compulsory need it seems to have to make a statement. The idea that there has to be a tidy wrap-up or moral to the story. And although the need for a narrative through-line, something that naturalism in American theater has demanded for the better part of two centuries, is a hindrance to this show, it is by no means a reason to skip this zany, irreverent, and hilarious production. That would be a sin.
An Act of God
By David Javerbaum
Directed by Joe Mantello
Opens Wednesday, February 10 at 8 p.m. (Previews January 30 through February 9) Continues through March 13, 2016. Ahmanson Theatre.
Performance Days and Times
- Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m.
- Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.
- Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m.
- No Monday performances.
- Exceptions: Added 2 p.m. performance on Thursday, March 10. No 6:30 p.m. performance on Sunday, March 13.
- Ticket Prices: $25 – $130 (Ticket prices are subject to change.)
- Tickets are available Online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org
- By calling Center Theatre Group Audience Services at 213.972.4400 • In person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the Music Center
Group Sales: 213.972.7231
Deaf community information and charge: visit CenterTheatreGroup.org/ProjectDATE
Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre at 135 N. Grand Ave. in Downtown Los Angeles at the Music Center.