Hand to God: Theater review by Adam Feldman
Praise be to the angels behind it: Hand to God has made it to Broadway. No need for heavenly choir music, though, because the reception the play deserves is the one it gets nightly at the Booth: roars of gleeful laughter. Some have wondered whether Robert Askins’s outrageous dark comedy—about a sweet Christian teen, Jason (Steven Boyer), and his demonic puppet, Tyrone—would work as well in a larger venue as in its two hit Off Broadway runs. The answer is a resounding, full-throated yes. The freshest and funniest Broadway comedy in years, Hand to God is to plays as The Book of Mormon is to musicals: a welcome breath of foul air.
Boyer doesn’t just bring Tyrone to profane, violent, horny life; he also always keeps Jason in the picture, agape at what his wandering hand is up to. It’s an unforgettable star turn, technically astonishing yet all-too-humanly touching. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, the production maintains a fine balance of satire and humanity, exemplified by its supporting cast: Geneva Carr as Jason’s harried mother; Marc Kudisch as a priest with romantic designs; Michael Oberholtzer as a lust-struck boy; and the terrifically deadpan Sarah Stiles as a sympathetic girl. The second act includes an uproarious sex scene, a showstopping set change and an attempted exorcism. You may even feel a little exorcised yourself by Askins’s surprisingly cathartic play. It entertains the devil out of you.
Booth Theatre (Broadway). By Robert Askins. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. With Steven Boyer, Geneva Carr. Running time: 1hr 50mins. One intermission.
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