A scene from "An Act of God" now playing at The Dio - photo courtesy of Michele Anliker Photography
Have you ever wanted to ask God a question? Perhaps pick his brain about plagues, biblical prophecies, or why bad things happen to good people? In The Dio’s current production of the hilarious “An Act of God” you might just get the chance.
David Javerbaum’s “An Act of God” is wrangled together like an interactive late-night comedy sketch-show. The play cleverly presents how God would deal with the modern age, and if he were here today, what he would have to say.
The answers might not be what you’d expect from the almighty, and Javerbaum imagines (or reincarnates) God as a character who resembles your favorite aunt at the annual Christmas party, ready to spill all the gossip that you’ve missed over the last year.
The premise of “An Act of God” is specifically tailored to each theatre who produces it, allowing endless creative freedom with the material. In the show, God “takes over” an actor on stage and uses him (or her) as a conduit to vent about his issues and frustrations with The Ten Commandments. And since he’s in the neighborhood, God decides to address the truth about how annoying it is that people keep screaming his name during sex, the real secrets behind Noah’s ark, and how he feels about society blaming him for just about everything.
In this case, God has made a solid choice of picking Wilde Award winner David Moan as his vessel, because he couldn’t have found a more perfect character to take on his glorious ego. As the lights begin to rise and Moan is "transformed" into the heavenly Father, he then begins plugging The Dio’s upcoming production of “A Gentlemen’s Guide To Love and Murder” which, non-coincidentally, will also star Moan. God is accompanied on stage by his two angels: Michael (Dale Dobson) and Gabriel (Conner Forrester) who basically serve as his groupies - with Michael rocking the slick gold sneakers and suave white suit, and Gabriel as the official announcer of The Lord himself.
The angels - most notably Michael - roam about the theatre, taking questions from the audience - (or questions the script mandates), but “An Act of God” is, for the most part, Moan’s show, and thou commands the stage exceptionally.
No seriously, the man is like a much raunchier version of Robin Williams' Genie from “Aladdin,” spouting off quick and zippy one liners like clockwork. And, because the script is so interactive, it leaves great room for improvisation, and Moan is given the freedom to riff off unsuspecting theatergoers in attendance (including this critic who was roasted opening night - and some unlucky soul named Susan). Don’t worry, it’s all in good fun, but I find it incredibly fascinating that each performance will never be the same. You could go Friday and Saturday night back to back and see something different.
That said, a show like “An Act of God” is solely dependent on an audience's willingness to participate and I give all the credit in the world to Moan for finding the right levels without pushing too much, even though I felt my audience was seemingly lackluster. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the coming weeks, “An Act of God” really starts to find its mojo as Moan and crew get audiences who aren’t afraid of being offended.
After all, God sees all we do right? He’s not afraid to reveal our embarrassing (and intimate) secrets - and though, in part, some jokes struggle to land, Moan never lets up as he goes full pedal to the medal on touchy topics like abortion, Sarah Palin, and homosexuality (let it be known: God loves the gays). Oh, and you can be assured some fun is had with how close in geographical proximity Hell, Michigan is to The Dio - because how can you not?
Matt Tomich - as usual - has done an exceptional job with his set design; creating a safe haven for God to dish his tea, and director Steve DeBruyne can rest easy knowing his star pupil literally floats on air during the breezy 90 minute runtime, and the delectable dinner served beforehand doesn’t disappoint either. In addition, Norma Polk’s costuming creates a gloriously inviting feel, like these are people I could spend time with (and trust me, you’ll want too).
Now if The Dio choose to produce “An Act of God” every summer, I would gladly come back and watch David Moan gab about the latest happenings in the world (can we please talk about the upcoming 2020 presidential election? What will he think of “Wonder Woman 1984?”) And that speaks volumes to how enjoyable this uproarious evening of theatre is. Say those Hail Mary’s now folks, because nobody is safe from His wrath, and there’s definitely no going back.
IF YOU GO:
The Dio's production of "An Act of God" runs through July 21st.
Tickets can be purchased by clicking here - and includes a dinner buffet and non-alcoholic beverage. Seating is limited. Advanced reservations are strongly recommended.