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February 12, 2016:

Act of God reviewed by Rob Stevens

In Act of God, the Almighty himself has come to the Ahmanson Theatre for a sit down set-the-record-straight talk with his creations. It’s as close to Hollywood this deity wants to get. The omnipotent, omniscient Creator has taken the corporeal form of actor Sean Hayes (from the TV show Will and Grace which he admits to watching) so as not to frighten us with his true visage. For 90 intermission-less minutes The Almighty, aided and abetted by his top two archangels Michael (David Josefsberg) and Gabriel (James Gleason), explains many of his followers over the millennia have mis-interrupted his words and deeds in the Bible. The good book does contain some truths but also some lies and some liberties. Ted Cruz, for one, needs to see this show. This play should really play the Bible Belt—in Los Angeles and the next stop San Francisco, the Lord is preaching to the choir.

He doesn’t hate gays. He actually did create Adam and Steve and put them in charge of the Garden of Eden, thinking they would make great gardeners. On reflection, he should have gone with lesbians. Noah and the Ark? There weren’t two of every living creature on board. His advice was to take two puppies for the long voyage. And the Book of Job? Well that was just the funniest story in the Bible. And his command to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac? That’s when God began to question his own mental stability. But mostly God had come down to give humanity a new set of Ten Commandments. It’s time to believe in ourselves and not to rely so much on someone who doesn’t really care about sports results or Kanye’s Grammy awards.

Joe Mantello’s direction keeps the show moving at a brisk pace. Playwrigfht David Javerbaum, formerly a writer for both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, really delivers the laughs and the political barbs. But he also makes some serious points and Hayes does a great job covering all the bases. The deadpan and stentorian Gleason as Gabriel is a perfect counterpoint to the angry firebrand humanist Michael that Josefberg inhabits. He is the people’s champion, asking questions like “do you answer prayers?” and “why is there so much suffering?” and “why did you let the Holocaust happen?” Questions that anger God but also give him a chance to reflect on his power over us. Act of God is a very funny evening but also leaves you with some interesting topics of conversation to mull over.

4stars

Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave. in Los Angeles. Ends March 13. www.centertheatregroup.com

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