Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hand To God @ The Lucille Lortel Theatre

Looking for a riotous and raucous night of religious slander and sock puppets?  If so, Hand to God is the place to be!  
Jason (Steven Boyer) is going through a difficult time in his life with the death of his father.  Lucky for him, he has Tyrone, his sock puppet, to help him through it.  It becomes clear quickly that this may not be lucky at all.  Between offending, Jessica (Sarah Stiles), the girl Jason is interested in and straining the relationship with Jason’s mother Margery (Geneva Carr), Tyrone causes Jason continual heartache.  Jason hopes to end his friendship with Tyrone.  Tyrone, however, has other ideas.  As the story unfolds, will the local bad boy Timothy (Michael Oberholtzer) get pushed too far?  Will Pastor Greg (Marc Kudisch) be able to handle what looks to be a possession?  Find out with this wonderfully offensive comedy that pushes the envelope of what might be appropriate in a Trey Parker/Matt Stone style.
Robert Askins’ script delivers humor on many levels.  His writing enraptures the audience, grabbing laughs like a shopping spree while simultaneously connecting the audience with all of the characters tragedies.  He is helped in this enterprise in no small way by the extraordinary cast.  Kudisch delivers the axiomatic Pastor with ease, giving us just the right hints into his deeper motives.  Oberholtzer is perfectly believable as the confused, love struck bully.  Stiles execution of dry humor makes for a hilarious counterpoint to the high chaos around her while Carr takes that volatile energy to new heights with her emotional tirades.
Boyer delivers both Jason and Tyrone with frightful ease.  His incredible versatility is simply awesome, a flawless Jekyll and Hyde act.  He delivers hilarity and horror with literally the same breath, an elite talent.
The production deserves its accolades as well.  Kudos must be given to scenic designer Beowulf Boritt and lighting designer Jason Lyons.  The set is peppered with amusingly appropriate religious propaganda at the start and transforms into a hilarious setting for the second half of the show.  The poster over Jason’s bed is especially enjoyable.  The lighting effects as well as set design are fully believable and help draw the audience even further in.
All in all, you will not be disappointed with Hand to God.  It is a road down insane hilarity that should not be missed.

Review By: Paul Morin

Photos By: Gerry Goodstein

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