Left – Gyton Grantley. Cover – Gyton Grantley and Morgana O’Reilly. Photos – Angel Leggas
Hand to God tells the story of Jason, a young man whose family life has seen better days. His father ate himself into an early grave, his mother’s only solace seems to be the local church ministry, and the puppet that has been his only friend has recently been possessed by Satan… what unfolds is an episode of events which leaves Jason wondering how good of a person he really is, who is to blame for his current state of affairs, and if his left arm will ever be free again.
Nominated for a Tony award during its season on Broadway in 2015, Robert Askins’ Hand to God presents an insightful look at the religious fanaticism, social contradictions and questionable morals that exist in modern America’s southern states.
Gary Abraham’s representation of this American cultural comedy is surprisingly well suited to Australia’s current social climate. The observable conflict between an increasingly non-religious population, and a government “driven” by religious principles is more apparent now than it has been in a long time… Askins’ resolve to laugh at the religious tensions in our society is a welcome relief from the highly strung social conversation.
Abraham’s cast really brings an amazing script to life. Gyton Grantley (Jason) demonstrates an absolute mastery of the art of puppetry, seamlessly switching between his own character and that of his puppet, Tyrone. Tyrone really is the star of the show, he is shallow, arrogant and loud… one found themselves forgetting that the puppet was not actually a person on stage.
The show’s love triangle sub-plot, between Timothy (Jake Speer), Margery (Alison Whyte), and Pastor Greg (Grant Piro) adds a level of depth and complexity that more conservative pieces of theatre might have alluded to, but which might have chosen to leave off the stage. However, the bombastic comedy that these characters create is an absolute delight.
A special mention must be made for the puppet designers… who could have thought a sock could have made such a convincing character. Also, to Morgana O’Reilly (Jessica)… the deep rouge of the audience’s cheeks speaks of your talent in portraying puppet sex.
VASS Productions presents
Hand to God
by Robert Askins
Director Gary Abrahams
Venue: Alex Theatre | 1/135 Fitzroy St, St Kilda VIC 3182
Dates: 25 Feb – 18 March 2018