Hand to God, written by Robert Askins and directed by Gary Abrahams was one hell of a ride (pun absolutely intended).
Something about mixing horny puppets, religion and questionable morals together makes for some great black comedy.
Initially, the feeling of being transported to a holy church in the deep south of Cyrpress, Texas was quite uncomfortable for a Bill Nye-loving atheist such as myself. But thankfully, no longer than 2 minutes in and the dark humour was unleashed. The first act was mostly spent in stitches laughing with the plot still keeping me curious. The interpersonal relationships between characters was developed well, but it took me some time to knuckle down what each character was like as an individual. Once things started to heat up between the characters I was awaiting the inevitable explosion that was Tyrone.
Not having seen any previous production of Hand to God, I spent the majority of the second act trying to determine whether or not the storyline of the demonic puppet ‘Tyrone’ was going to be taken down the full supernatural road, that of say Little Shop of Horrors or Vivid White. Having the personification taken to the next level, or whether the plot was hinting more so towards Jason having some form mental illness. Although it was easy to assume and draw the conclusion that Jason’s family history and skittish behaviour could lead to such a thing, there was still a part of me that wanted to buy into this personified puppet Satan. However, it wasn’t truly until the final scene between Margery and Jason where it was to be answered plain and simple. The mother and son were both in a position to seek professional help.
However, I did feel that there were some other unresolved plot points that were introduced throughout the play that didn’t get the resolution that they deserved. The overall satirical comedy was a big hit and the cast were landing bit after bit. It was the deeper more emotional writings of the play that I wish were explored more thoroughly. I also think that the underlying relatable moral pertaining to religion that was briefly summed up in the end about the concept of “wrongs” and the devils doing was slightly lost on me.
The acting on all accounts was what truly made this show for me. Gyton Grantly in the roles of Jason and Tyrone was an absolute standout. Acting among fellow scene partners is one thing, but carrying out not one, but several scenes by himself, it was clear how polished Grantly was in his performance. His ability to switch between two characters so seamlessly completely elevated the play and made for the most fascinating scenes.
The vaudeville style comedy and the demonic outburst alike were all a testament to his stellar performance.
The technical elements to this show embellished the quality of the show significantly. Set design by Jacob Battista deserved accolade for his incredible use of space. The upstage level segmented by curtain was so multipurpose and was very well utilised throughout. The lighting and sound design were quite simple, but matched the tone of the piece quite perfectly with the occasional demonic effect when needed.
Vass Production’s Hand to God is a must-see show this season. If you’re looking for a reason to leave the kids at home, get to the theatre and share with them your best evil cackle.
To book tickets head to premier.ticketek.com.au
Written by Blaze Bryans