Hand to God is described as a dark or black comedy. It is currently playing at the B Street Theatre (Mainstage) through July 23.
Hand to God was produced Off Broadway in 2011 and 2014, and on Broadway in 2015. The Broadway production received five Tony Award nominations, including one for Best New Play. Very impressive for a playwright in his 30’s whose day job is working as a bartender.
I had heard various reactions to the play, so I was most interested to see it myself. Several friends and I saw the production this past weekend.
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Lloyd Levine, a member of the B Street Theatre Board of Directors, made some introductory comments. He mentioned that the Sacramento Bee has let its theatre review staff go and he asked the audience – if they liked the play – to help spread the word. He also jokingly suggested that those in the audience who felt otherwise should keep their opinion to themselves.
It is sad that Sacramento area residents will no longer have access to theatre reviews in the Sacramento Bee. While I did not always agree with the reviews – I certainly enjoyed reading them and often gained insights into the plot of the play.
The friend with whom I share a pair of season tickets had commented shortly before the introductory comments on the many empty seats in the theatre – many more than usual for a Saturday night.
The play largely takes place in the basement of a church in Cypress, Texas (which also happens to be the birthplace of the playwright).
Jason (Ryan Borses), a deeply troubled teenager, and his alter ego Tyrone, a hand puppet who becomes foul-mouthed and evil/violent, are center stage. Margery (Elisabeth Nunziato), Jason’s mother, is a woman with her own problems who has recently lost her husband. Pastor Greg (Dave Pierini), who is lonely, makes unwanted advances to Margery – only to be rejected. Timmy (Andrew Mazer), a sullen teenager with raging hormones, finds himself infatuated with Margery, and Jason is attracted to and wants to get to know teenage Jessica (Stephanie Altholz) better.
The plot thickens, and indiscretions occur, but I do not want to give any more of the plot away. It has already been widely reported so I can confirm – yes there is a scene of wild puppet sex between Tyrone and Jessica’s busty girl hand puppet.
Overall, I thought that the actors did an excellent job portraying their characters – no complaints there. I found the music during set changes “creepy”, and I did find myself really laughing – once. I was not offended by the language, but I also did not – bottom line – find Hand to God to be funny. Is Hand to God a play that I would recommend to friends as a must see? The simple answer is no.
If you have had the opportunity to see Hand to God I would love to hear your take on the play – especially if your opinion differs from mine.
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