God (Mitchell Butel) has returned. He is tired of the miss-representation, the continual asking for favours and the never ending thanks for football victories and award wins. So it’s time to fix those pesky ten commandments and sort it all out once and for all. Plus he has a little announcement. He is assisted in his presentation of the new commandments by Archangels Gabriel (Laura Murphy) and Michael (Alan Flower)
An Act Of God was written by David Javerbaum, Executive Producer of The Daily with Jon Stewart. The play has that same cynical, cutting comedy that rips right through to the core of the social issues of our time. God is sassy, witty and oh so self-obsessed, tired and ready to move on. The production has been Co-Directed by Butel and Richard Carroll who they have worked very hard to rejigging the script to keep it up-to-date and Australian. They have done an excellent dramaturgical job.
First thing needs to be addressed.. can Mitchell Butel do anything wrong? Currently one of the hottest actors in Australian theatre right now – three Helpmann Awards, three Sydney Theatre Awards and two Green Room Awards all line his well reinforced trophy cabinet at home and he does not put a foot wrong here. He struts the stage and works the audience with ease, owning the lines and the jokes. It is truly a masterclass in comic acting. Alan Flower plays a wonderful comic side-kick, relishing in the pathos. When his brief moment comes to take a stronger role he grabs the moment and takes command of the stage. Laura Murphy also does fine work with what is a very limited opportunity. As the keyboard playing assistant, the script and direction don’t give her much. This was especially telling at at the end when there is opportunity to let the two sidekicks unleash their potential. We do get a chance to hear Murphy belt out a great little musical bit but it felt like it was a ‘filler’ and more could have been done in that moment.
All the design elements of this production work together perfectly from Set (Charles Davis), Lighting (Katie Sfetkidis) and Sound (Andrew Worboys – who also composed the music).
Overall this is a very entertaining and enjoyable night. The play reminds us that there may be a place for religion in our lives if we wish to believe, but maybe we have not found the right structure and interpretation of the biblical clues. It also allows us to sit back in complete atheism and laugh at the glaring biblical inconsistencies and nonsensical ‘facts’. That is the beauty of this script you can come in with any view but you will probably leave having had a few moment to ‘pause for thought’ and definitely have a few interesting conversation starters. With the bonus of lots and lots of laughs.
Lynden Jones – Theatre Now & On The Town
Photo Credit: Phil Erbacher