Curtain Call Theater, Latham, NY
An Act of God
by David Javerbaum
Directed by Patrick White Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman
"I . . . am God."
For one hour and twenty minutes Bill Shein is God. For that long, at least, revisionist comedy is in command of the world we know. With the notable willing assistance of Saints Michael and Gabriel, God corrects history, rewrites the ten Commandments and wreaks havoc on a world he is ready to abandon - if he hasn't already - the earth and its people once and for all. This is what he wants, but we're just so much fun he might reconsider. When this show played in new York it originally starred Jim Parsons as God (100 performances Off-Broadway) and then Sean Hayes (98 performances on Broadway) directed by Joe Montello. God, in his hands, was definitely gay. At the Curtain Call Theatre in Latham. NY with Patrick White directing God has a special affection for gay men but is not gay, himself..
Javerbaum's narrative takes us from pre-creation to the world of the Broadway musical with music by by Adam Schlesinger. God recounts the seven days of creation with a sly reference to Darwinian theory, the story of Adam and Steve (He apparently didn't encourage very much procreation), the invention of murder and sacrifice, the uses of slavery and finally his dictation of his laws. In this play he has decided to rewrite and alter them because he can. The bulk of the play centers on this new variation on the original.
Scott Wasser as Michael, Rich Marshall as Gabriel, Bill Shein as God.
Photo: Michael Farrell
Rich Marshall as Gabriel, Bill Shein as God, Scott Wasser as Michael;
Photo: Michael Farrell
God takes liberties - because He can - with what we all know about both volumes of the Bible.. Some of these "real" truths are hilariously funny. He does this aided by his angel companions and seemingly prompted by the audience. The audience does have an opportunity to join in the actual fun during the show's finale.. This is a simple production and while its construction seems loose it is tightly scripted. That casual sense of the show is due to White's direction and the work of its three actors: Shein, Scott Wasser and Rick Marshall. They give it an almost improvised sense which is all to the good. On a beautiful set designed by Andy Nice dressed in fine costumes by Beth Ruman and well lit by Paul K. Randassao the trio of actors is well presented.
Scott Wasser, Rick Marshall; Photo: Nichael Farrell
Scott Wasser shimmers as Michael. He spends considerable time in the audience and is the recipient of several special effects and one hilariously subtle costume change. As the angel who stands up to God he exhibits no employer/employee fears is only cowed when mankind is threatened. It is very subtle performance.
Gabriel, God's dutiful servant delivers comedy-emphatic rim-shots as needed. He is the exhibit maven and the reciter of laws who dances changes around the stage and exudes good cheer almost no-matter-what. Rick Marshall plays Gabriel with all the good will available in him. He does attentive apostle bit without missing a moment and seems to be the prime candidate for God's favorite. The role is very well performed.
Bill Shein; Photo: Michael Farrell
Bill Shein must be one of His own miracles. He brings to his performance a natural style of delivery that makes the lines feel as real, and off-the-cuff as possible. Nothing in his work is actory or as mannered as it could be and the result is that you feel as though you were actually in God's presence. It is nice to discover that though you might not appreciate his motives in this informal audience, you are rather glad you came. For this particular show that works like a charm. He is the key to the show's worthiness; it isn't the funniest comedy you'll see, but its peculiarities make it the strangest and that is a different sort of strength.
+ 07/25/2021 +