By ROY BERKO
God, or a facsimile thereof, in the form of Mike Polk Jr., who in his other life is a local comedian and Fox 8 personality, is appearing on the Beck Center for the Arts stage, in a mock spiritual conversation with his audience.
The script, which was written by David Javerbaum, and was adapted from his book “The Last Testament: A Memoir by God” is sure to offend some, and regale everyone else in sustained laughter. In other venues it has been called “a gut-busting-funny riff on the never-ending folly of mankind’s attempts to fathom God’s wishes through the words of the Bible and use them to their own ends.”
It starred both Jim Parsons (Sheldon on Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon) and Sean Hayes (Jack of “Will and Grace”) in its two successful Broadway runs.
“God” shares with us, “Yea, I have grown weary of the Ten Commandments,” therefore, he “has come before us to expand the list. Or rather rewrite it, since some of the originals were too good to let go.”
God is not doing this task alone. He is accompanied by his two favorite archangels, compliant Gabriel (Brian Pedaci) who acts as God’s “yes” man, and the inquisitive Michael (Allan Byrne) who asks lots of probing questions, such as why God allowed the Holocaust and why children die of cancer, while also probing audience members to throw inquiries and barbs at the Almighty.
God doesn’t put up easily with Michael’s antics. The poor guy not only gets sent off the stage, but loses a wing for his impertinence.
Performed on a white-stepped modernistic set, such topics as circumcisions, Jesus, the difference between lies and liberties, believing in thyself, respecting children, who are the Muslims and Jews, the lack of “God” in China, and the new ten commandments, fits well the relaxed, stand-up comedy format.
Polk, who on opening night was obviously fighting a cold, has a nice presentational-style, that makes his “blasphemous” statements less stinging than if he “acted” God-like. He toys well with the audience and laughs at himself and the deity he is playing in a non-attacking way. This is a wonderful unique performance which does not try to imitate either Parsons or Hayes.
Both Pedaci and Byrne are spot on as the archangels.
Director William Roudebush obviously has an understanding of the difference between comedy and farce, not forcing slapstick or overdone lines. The show’s pace allows for laughs, without begging for them.
CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: An Act of God is one of those funny, funny irreverent scripts that, while it may offend some, gets a no-holds-barred, must-see fine production at Beck Center for the Arts. You’ll be upset or leave with a smile on your face respecting a writer who can come up with a clever way to confront the ills of the world in a humorous way.
An Act of God is scheduled to run at Beck Center for the Arts through October 7, 2018. For tickets and information call 216-521-2540 or go online here.