God gets a little help from playwright David Javerbaum in his comic play “An Act of God.” But as we are soon to discover, God doesn’t really need much outside help offering sage advice from a mere mortal.
Creationists may take heart now that God has deemed it important to not only set the official biblical records straight but make certain corrections to scriptural laws that have been misinterpreted since the beginning of recorded time. A personal appearance at the George Street Playhouse’s interim home on College Farm Road is therefore deemed necessary.
Well, it is not exactly the Lord himself but rather present in the guise of (to use his own words) the legendary star of stage and screen Kathleen Turner.
Accompanied by two winged archangels played with subservient panache by Jim Walton and Stephen DeRose, Turner presides as the officially anointed/appointed spokesperson for God.
It appears God has been doing a lot of reflecting about the world he created and we apparently desecrated in his name. Be prepared for a holy review and a mostly comical rebuke from our creator, who has lots of second thoughts. And if anyone thinks that the Lord can’t be witty and twist and turn all our worries and concerns about survival and salvation into jokes, then think again.
Just don’t expect to get reasonable answers to all the questions you’ve been asking since Sunday or maybe Saturday school. Dressed in a flowing white caftan with gold trimmings, “she who must be attended” is holding court in a reasonably celestial setting designed by Timothy R. Mackabee, whose preferred palette is white on white. However, a clouded blue sky is the backdrop for a white chaise lounge, a small white round end table, and a pair of white lecterns that sit atop a slightly raised white platform.
The two archangels serve as go-betweens for God and members of the audience who are invited to ask questions. Some are stumpers. Why is there something rather than nothing? And some are confounding: Do you have a plan for the universe?
We have to give the playwright Javerbaum (“The Daily Show” scribe) and his extraordinary God de jour credit for making the gender switch for this production so acceptable. Kudos to director David Saint for his earnest guidance in making this primarily one-person comedy a satisfying, occasionally laugh-aloud diversion.
“An Act of God” first appeared on Broadway a few seasons back with Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) as God. The case can now be made that the wondrously husky-voiced Turner, most famously renowned for her femme fatale role in the film “Body Heat” and in many other terrific films and stage plays over the years, is no less a terrific stand-up comedienne. Just to put the record straight, Turner’s exceedingly droll and often hilariously deadpan delivery of Javerbaum’s often deliberately blasphemous text is always spot on and brilliantly calculated and timed to get the intended laugh.
Outside of — but also akin to — political comedian Bill Maher’s openly irreverent anti-all-religions rants, Javerbaum attempts to give a comedic platform to the rampant hypocrisy and the religious hyperbole that has tainted our spiritual quests.
I will refrain from quoting some of the funniest lines that had the opening night audience falling out of their seats. The best reveal God to be fiercely emotional and also unapologetically condescending. Willing as he is to admit that panic and awe are two favorite emotions, God pulls no punches when asked to respond to questions about provocative issues such as slavery, human suffering, and the debate over evolution. The answers are funnier than they have any right to be.
God may go on the defensive explaining why things are and need to be the way they are, but we are eager and ready for the true (heavens, not those alternate facts you’ve been hearing from the media) revelations, explanations, recollections, recriminations, rebuttals, and distortions that have confounded mankind since we left the trees … I mean those in the Garden of Eden. As God addresses us without regrets, you are my best creation and I am your worst.
“An Act of God” is satire for better and for worse, sometimes stinging, often smart, but mainly just for fun.
An Act of God, George Street Playhouse, 103 College Farm, New Brunswick. Through December 23. $85 to $100. 732-246-7717 or georgestreetplayhouse.org.