Review: ‘An Act of God’ at Signature Theatre

I was healed. Aches and pains of the day disappeared. Headaches from paying too close attention to Presidential tweets vanished. I might have been saved too. Not sure of that just yet. Will have to wait and see.

How were these things possible for an older Jewish guy, a member of the original Chosen People and native of Jersey? Nope, it wasn’t because I had scored Springsteen on Broadway tickets.

Evan Casey as Michael, Tom Story as God, and Jamie Smithson as Gabriel in An Act of God. Photo by Margot Schulman.

All it took was being in Shirlington at Signature Theatre’s modern day, rim-shot of a comedy, An Act of God and being in close proximity to The Almighty in the guise of the ever charming, physical being of Tom Story. Clearly deserved thanks are due to unseen Director Eleanor Holdridge, with her eager, puckish, Family Feud gusto.

Tom Story, as the Supreme Being, is wildly priceless. He is a whirlwind, a burning bush of chirpy humor with plenty of delightfully hilarious, blasphemous snaps and zaps aimed at humankind and God (in this case, himself). As God, Story can have a narrow-eyed petulance one moment, and a nanosecond later, be affable and affectionate. An Act of God is for anyone in the mood for making life laughable.

Written by 13-time Emmy Award winner David Javerbaum (The Daily Show), An Act of God easily lives up to its hype as a truly witty, urbane comedy that delivers new meanings to the intervention of the Divine in daily life, and creates an altogether new Ten Commandments to appreciate. Make that The Ten Commandments 2.0 (thank you Steve Jobs, as per God Almighty).

Tom Story as God, Jamie Smithson as Gabriel, and Evan Casey as Michael in An Act of God at Signature Theatre. Photo by Margot Schulman.

In An Act of God, the Supreme Being has much to say to humankind with his two Biblical archangel side-kicks standing near-by. There is an annoying, suck-up angel – Gabriel (a holier-than-thou, goody-goody Jamie Smithson) and a feisty stand-in for humanity, a questioning angel – Michael (a wonderfully droll Evan Casey, who takes a bolt of energy and pays a price for his many questions)

What kind of specific Godly humor can the audience expect? Well, I am not going to ruin your evening with specific jokes, but suffice to say that God is out to let humanity know some their misconceptions about him. He even riffs using the original Ten Commandments. There are also plenty timely references to Ann Coulter, Senator Ted Cruz, local DC area sports, missed free throws, the President, and even Don McLean’s “American Pie,” to name just a scattered few. (Plus Story’s bon mot ad libs for several late arriving patrons).

Ok, there is an “Adam and Steve” moment of sketch art that brought the house down in joy.

God even takes on his own “mysterious” ways and his issues with wrath. There are also references to God’s ultimate pride in his child, Jesus Christ; as God says (with Tom Story’s twinkling eyes and spot-on timing), “Jesus was a middle child, and acted like it.”

Evan Casey as Michael, Tom Story as God, and Jamie Smithson as Gabriel in An Act of God at Signature Theatre. Photo by Margot Schulman.

The comedy is well assisted by designer Robert Croghan’s visually appealing costumes, all-clad in white from head to toe. Angel wings for Gabriel and Michael are treasures, especially after angel Michael has pissed-off God with one too many questions.

Daniel Conway’s set design is a Rococo-looking affair (with cherubs), including a loveseat for The Almighty to lounge around on, and way more. Alberto Segarra’s lighting added bright pastel hues. Ryan Hickey’s sound design is especially delightful when God needs to make a point of something with a booming, echo filled voice.

An Act of God is a joyful evening of winks and nods and well-earned easy laughter. It is a night away to just be silly. With Tom Story performing effortlessly, the audience even can contemplate Ten Commandments 2.0.  Here are just two of them: “Thou shalt not kill in my name, and “Thou shalt separate Me and state.”

An Act of God had the full house of the ARK rocking and rolling with nearly non-stop waves of laughter of comic fire and brimstone. With Tom Story as The Almighty, Signature’s An Act of God is aces. The show is for anyone ready and able to rethink all those Sunday school lessons received much earlier in life.

Running time: 75 minutes, with no intermission

An Act of God plays through November 26, 2017, at Signature Theatre – 4200 Campbell Avenue, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call (703) 820-9771, or purchase them online.

Note: An Act of God contains theatrical haze and adult language.

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