Thursday, November 24, 2016

reviews - AN ACT OF GOD - Arizona Theatre Company

Paige Davis
photo by Tim Fuller
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through December 4th.

"God has appeared before us in many guises. He’s spreading his new message in the desert, specifically at Herberger Center for Arizona Theatre Company with guidance from director Marsha Mason until December 4, only this time the chosen form is a she, and She is now Paige Davis. Adapted from his own series of comical tweets, then a book, comedy writer and Emmy Award winner ...David Javerbaum’s An Act of God spreads Her new Word in the valley. And it’s an important one. God has decided to take corporeal form once again so that She can appear before us and correct a few things; some odds and ends that didn’t work quite as well as intended the first time around, particularly some of our misinterpretations of Her intentions.. God has borrowed Paige’s body...“She has no idea she’s here,” God confides as an impish aside...With arms opened wide...Even before She speaks She’s already pulled us in with Paige’s winning personality. ...With help from a couple of angels, Michael (Max Lawrence)...and Gabriel (James Gleason)...God proceeds to tell us why She’s here. The Ten Commandments needs a re-write...But there’s some new work to be done. This time there’s no middle man to deliver the message. As God tell us, no Moses required. She’s informing the people directly, and she’s chosen Phoenix to deliver the revision....This God is a quite the animated Chatty Cathy as She proceeds to give Her opinion on certain habits of mankind that haven’t gone exactly the way She would have liked..not all the jokes work. Much is undeniably clever and quotable..some hit, some miss. ...Javerbaum’s script never quite delivers that deep, revelatory moment where an overall point is revealed. ..There’s no real provoking thought to make us consider an idea we’ve never before considered; it’s all more lightly amusing with rapid, quick-fire gags, though surprisingly absent of any genuine belly laughs. However, the pious should be warned; feelings will be occasionally punctured....the shortcomings of Javerbaum’s script has nothing to do with Paige Davis who is truly delightful. ...possesses such a pleasing, bouncy, ebullient manner that from time to time, when the script flattens, it’s obvious she’s better than much of the material Javerbaum requires her to deliver. Ever since the beginning, over the centuries, among God’s many good ideas that He’s shared with mankind, taking on the form of Paige in An Act of God to deliver His updates for our benefit has to be one of the best." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"For the next few weeks you can get a glimpse of God in downtown Phoenix. Well, not exactly God, but God appearing in the body of perky actress and TV reality show host Paige Davis, who is speaking the words of playwright David Javerbaum in An Act of God. While not exactly a "second coming," Javerbaum's play is light and funny with some good jokes and enough of a message to have some resonance in our modern world. Arizona Theatre Company presents the area premiere of this recent Broadway hit comedy. God has had enough and he's angry. He's come to Earth to enlighten us hypocritical zealots on how we've been manipulating and misinterpreting his laws and commandments. He has taken the form of beloved TV personality Paige Davis in order to better reach us and make sure we get his point. He's decided to come back to edit and update the Ten Commandments because they are out of date and aren't being used the way he originally meant them to be. ...based on Javerbaum's Twitter account @TheTweetOfGod and his book "The Last Testament: A Memoir by God." Full of some great one liners and several other witty jokes, the play does meander a bit, which makes its point not as clear or enlightening as it could be. Javerbaum's script is also somewhat uneven with extended sequences about Abraham and Isaac and the original inhabitants of the Garden of Eden that go on too long. ...Is the message of the play that God isn't who we think he is? That we're better off in a God-free world? That incorrectly following the Ten Commandments and other rules in the Bible has resulted in us being a more vicious and petty society? I'm not exactly sure. What I took away from the piece was that when things go good, or when they go bad, it doesn't exactly mean that God had anything to do with the outcome, and the updated Tenth Commandment that Javerbaum presents, which packs a surprisingly effective end punch, is one of simple common sense that anyone can relate to: "believe in thyself." perfectly perky and endearing as God and full of charm with an expert delivery of the many jokes. While they aren't given much to do, James Gleason and Max Lawrence provide a nice counterpoint to Davis at times...Director Marsha Mason's comic background ensures that the big jokes get big laughs. But her direct approach to the more serious moments also gives an assured tone that, when combined with Davis' clear portrayal, helps smooth over the rougher, uneven moments in the script. ...Part stand-up comedy and part prophetic drama, An Act of God may not exactly answer the burning questions it raises, but it gets some big laughs on the way to its endearing and common-sense ending." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"As Paige Davis emerges at the beginning of “The Act of God,” she starts spouting the play’s amusing diatribes about daily living.  Playwright David Javerbaum turns these occurrences into hysterical stories and clever one-liners that create raucous laughter.  Davis is superb ...She delivers the madcap frivolity with impeccable comic timing, superb understatement, and sly subtlety. ...The playwright doesn’t belabor his humor making the show literally a laugh a minute.  You can’t go wrong with “The Act of God” ." --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"Paige Davis..has big fill in Arizona Theatre Company’s “An Act of God." In this comic riff by David Javerbaum..the Supreme Being..has a few things to say to humanity and chooses the nonthreatening form of a perky celebrity to deliver a new Ten Commandments....Javerbaum uses his sharp wit to poke fun at biblical literalism and various human foibles ..and the results are pretty gosh-darn funny. ..Arizona Theatre’s choice to cast a woman in the title role.. is an intriguing twist, but Davis’ cheery persona lacks a certain arch, acerbic quality that would better fit the script....delivers plenty of laughs and even a few provocative thoughts. " Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

" Arizona Theatre Company's adaptation of David Javerbaum's AN ACT OF GOD, the Lord (Paige Davis) descends from her celestial perch to set the record straight. God incarnate in the human form of Ms. Davis aims to dispel her congregation of all myths and assumptions about her reliability as a source of salvation. ...She's "weary of the Ten Commandments, in exactly the same way that Don McLean has grown weary of American Pie," and presents a new and updated Decalogue that's more in keeping with her snarky attitude....Aided and abetted in her revelations by the adjunct archangels, Michael (Max Lawrence) and Gabriel (James Gleason), God swings high and low at her subjects human and her subjects theological. The satire, directed by the marvelous actress Marsha Mason, is precisely what you'd expect from the pen of the writer and producer of such hits as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. It requires however a delivery that is more nuanced and variegated ~ with well-timed dashes of irony, vexation, and sarcasm ~ than that provided by Davis. ... it's an opportunity missed. All in all, it's a mildly entertaining performance, relatively short on solid laughs, and fairly painless."  - Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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