Monday, July 13, 2015

Broadway Theater Review: An Act of God with Jim Parsons



You’d Think God Would Have Figured Out How to be More Entertaining
By Lauren Yarger
God has spoken and he wants you to laugh. At least God, as portrayed by Jim Parsons, that is.

Parsons of “Big Bang Theory” fame – how ironic – portrays the Creator in An Act of God, what has been called in promotional materials, a “one-god show based on the memoir of God” (really written by David Javerbaum, a 13-time Emmy Award winner for his work as a head writer and executive producer for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and curator of the Twitter account @TheTweetOfGod, which has over 1.94 million followers.) OK, I’ll bite.

God, it seems has grown weary of the original 10 Commandments. Dressed in a white robe (Costume Design by David Zinn) and strolling in his celestial digs designed by Scott Pask, he reveals a revised set of the rules etched in stone with the help of chief angels, Michael (Christopher Fitzgerald) and Gabriel (Tim Kazurinsky) – and Projection Design by Peter Nigrini, Illusion Consulting by Paul Kieve and Special effects by Gregory Meeh.

The first one remains the same. He is, after all, God. But after that, there are a few changes, which begs the question, he allows, whether the bible is accurate.

 “Yes. the bible is 100 percent accurate,” he says. “Especially when thrown at close range.”

You can see where this is headed…..
Some of the commandments getting a little more than a tweak:

·         The second: “Thou shalt not tell others whom to fornicate.”
·         The third: “Thou shalt not kill in My name.”
·         The fourth: “Thou shalt separate Me and state.”
·         The fifth: “Thou shalt not seek a personal relationship with Me.”
·         The seventh: “Thou shalt not tell Me what to do.”
·         The eighth: “Thou shalt honor thy children.”
·         The ninth: “Thou shalt not believe in Me.”
·         The tenth: “Thou shalt not believe in Me.”

There is ensuing banter as each one is revealed. There are a few laughs, but for the most part I kept waiting for the show, directed by Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart)  to be funny. The first part of the 90-minute, no intermission performance seemed to have some potential, but as time dragged on – gee, God was able to create a whole world in just six days-- the joke wore thin (with many punch lines falling flat).

God appears to be desperate by the end, having called President Obama the messiah (albeit a disappointing one, he concedes), saying (with an expletive) that he hates Sarah Palin and bashing religion in general. It was kind of like sitting in a church service with a really long, boring sermon and realizing you still have six commandments to go….


Apparently the concept of eternity doesn’t apply to Parsons’ god. This Act of God’s limited engagement will see its final curtain Aug. 2. It plays at Studio 54, 254 West 54th St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday - Thursday at 7 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Wednesday and Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm.  NOTE: Thursday, July 28 performance at 8 pm. Tickets $55 - $149: http://anactofgod.com.

Christians might like to know:
Well, this one kind of speaks for itself.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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