Arts & Culture Editor
An Act of God is a ninety minute one act piece by the comedy writer David Javerbaum that puts the audience in a conversation with God (played by the hysterical, Erin Maguire). In Javerbaum’s story, God has taken the human form of Maguire and is on the earth to share her wisdom with the audience. Maguire’s God is also accompanied onstage by two angels, Gabriel (Michael Iannucci) and Michael (Anson Woodin). Gabriel is the obedient angel, helping God fill plates of food throughout her act and occasionally reading the Bible and assisting in telling the stories. If Gabriel is the doting literal angel to God, then Michael is the skeptical voice. Constantly questioning God’s advice and words, his character supplies the conflict to the piece as he struggles to trust this god he has to serve. While the show may sound emotional, it is actually very funny throughout and unexpectedly irreverent. The play is presented as a show within a show as God is presenting the evening on the set of a fictional television show called “What’s Cooking with God.” The audience is along for the ride, and what a wild ride it is, with side splitting comedy and an interactive atmosphere, as God and the angels constantly and hilariously play with the audience.
Maguire’s God is very frank in her discussion on topical subjects such as gay rights, abortion and celebrity stardom, yet her quick wit makes her an extremely charismatic and engaging host. Even when the God character is at her most egotistical at times, Maguire’s whip-snap delivery surely entertains. She also brings some welcome levity to the character of God in moments of recounting her past. For instance, this is a god who admits they are not perfect and has made unwise decisions. These moments elevate Maguire’s God from a one-liner busting caricature to a three dimensional being. Maguire establishes herself in this show as a comedic force of nature. She is onstage for the majority of the ninety-minute show and delivers her highly comedic monologues with style and spunk. She has great chemistry with her two angels and is a constant delight. This is an excellent showcase for Maguire’s many skills from improv, standup and even a little bit of singing. This is a God that is equally gripping and gut bustlingly hilarious.
Michael Iannucci gives strong support to Maguire’s God. Delivering some one-liners of his own, Iannucci communicates very well his obedience towards Maguire’s God and is an especially strong foil to Woodin’s more skeptical Michael. Woodin as Michael brings a bit of drama as he constantly questions Maguire’s all-knowing God. His character is ultimately the one who helps bring this god down to earth. Both Iannucci and Woodin are excellent costars to Maguire and serve as vital parts of this show’s success.
Marc Robin directs this piece in an interactive, playful fashion. By choosing to set this production in a cooking television show setting, the fourth wall between the audience is completely broken. This makes room for highly entertaining surprises throughout and a loose sense of mischievous fun. Javerbaum’s script is one that is laugh out loud hilarious yet also is bold and pulls no punches. Although this show is about a God, this play isn’t afraid to make jokes about everyone and push the envelope a bit. Robin, in keeping with the irresistible energy from Maguire, keeps the audience at a place where they may be surprised but never lost. The one-liners are consistently sharp, always keeping the crowd on their toes. Robin, in letting the material shine, creates a thoroughly enjoyable comedic production.
Sean Cox’s immersive set design, which turns the entire Studio Theatre into the set of God’s fictional television show, “What’s Cooking with God” transports audiences instantly to the zany world of this piece. Katie Pollard-Knudson’s colorful lighting also does wonders in moving the audience through various Bible commandments and stories. Special mention must be given to the outstanding video design by Colin Riebel that provides sight gags and surprises throughout that are simply delightful. The sound by Seth Asa Sengel is also very strong as every line is heard clearly and succinctly. The creative elements are all uniformingly strong which even extends to the costumes by Anthony Lascoskie Jr. Its technical elements are a constant highlight that complement the comedy seamlessly.
The Fulton Theatre’s hysterical production of An Act of God is a side splitting delight with an extremely strong comedic performance by Maguire and fine support from Iannucci and Woodin. With equally as strong creative elements and material, this is a play that is comedy of a higher power.