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Sean Hayes is divinely funny in An Act of God on Broadway

Written by
David Cote

I could say that the return engagement of An Act of God, now with Sean Hayes, is a revelation, a miraculous epiphany or similar “religious” experience. Truth to tell, I was already a believer. I thoroughly enjoyed David Javerbaum’s theological satire last summer when it starred Jim Parsons, and I could watch Hayes’s bratty-campy shtick all night. So what if Hayes and his helpful angels Gabriel and Michael (James Gleason, David Josefsberg) are preaching to the choir? Preach out, Sean!

Although Javerbaum has tweaked a few lines for topicality (a Hamilton tickets joke here, a transgender bathroom reference there and the inevitable Trump digs), the premise is the same: The Supreme Being has come to earth in the form of a beloved celebrity to issue 10 new commandments. These Mosaic do-overs tweak fundamentalist bigotry and hypocrisy—“Thou Shalt Not Tell Others Whom to Fornicate,” “Thou Shalt Not Seek a Personal Relationship with Me”—but also challenge the very basis of faith: “Thou Shalt Not Believe in Me.” The script is packed with verbal wit and high-information comedy—what would you expect from an ex-head writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart? But it also finds room for genuine notes of regret from a deity who realizes He messed up Creation. “You’re gonna be fine, people,” God assures us shortly before an apocalyptic departure. “You’re my greatest creation. And I’m...I’m your worst.” Not many comedy shows have a monotheistic figure working through His own psychopathy.

So see the show, or go to Hell! You can get tickets here. Hayes has an entitled-narcissist vibe that differentiates him from Parsons’s naughty-choirboy act, and that gives the jokes a brisk, bitchy swing. Fun as Hayes is, I can’t help but wonder who might wear the robes if Act of God returns next year. For the sake of diversity, let’s hope producers don’t automatically pick another white male, but broaden the possibilities. Personally I’d love to see Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon get her God on. Or Melissa McCarthy. Could Trevor Noah balance The Daily Show and a Broadway gig? Lin-Manuel Miranda will soon be looking for stage work. Rashida Jones would be inspired casting. Of course, John Oliver would be hilarious. Jane Lynch could do it in her sleep. The list goes on…

What’s your dream casting for the Unmoved Mover if the show has a Third Coming? Comment below.

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