Lamb Arts Regional Theatre
An Act of God
Live at 417 Market Street
Sioux City, IA
And Streaming Online
If you want to see the face of God—as played by Donny Short—you don’t have to wait until you reach the gates of heaven. You don’t even have to make your way to 417 Market Street and take your seat inside Lamb Theatre. Instead, you can pay your online ticket fee and stream—as I did—An Act of God, which is available in person and online through the end of the weekend.
An Act of God, the new play written by David Javerbaum, is a feat of strength and endurance. Though Short is complemented by his two archangels, Gabriel and Michael—played by Matt Cihak and Brian Hamman—he carries the bulk of the weight in what is often a monologue from the mouth of the One True God. Throughout the course of the play, God revisits and revises his Ten Commandments. With the assistance of Gabriel, who reads from the scripture, and some interference from Michael, who fields questions from the audience and asks a few of his own, God takes stock of the world and speaks directly to his people, with “no Moses, no intermediary.”
God is still just as wrathful as ever, though he’s a little bit less PC. Much of the play’s humor—and it is funny—relies on the audience’s reaction to the irony of a foul-mouthed Father. God’s reconstitution of the Ten Commandments is the device that propels us through most of the play. Though some remain the same, the new proclamations offer fodder for comedy and some light commentary on the state of our state.
Eventually the play outgrows the need for the new Commandments, just as God outgrew the need for his old ones. The comedy is funny in itself but is best used to contrast the dramatic moments that evolve later. For me, the real value of the play is in its ability and willingness to transgress. Though it’s certainly amusing, I’m less interested in seeing a God who is a vulgar, cocksure loudmouth, which many of us are, than I am in seeing Him as flawed and self-conscious, which we all are. Those moments of His weakness and frailty are brief and few, but they are also the most satisfying. We can find ninety minutes of explicit—if not omniscient—irreverence just about anywhere nowadays, but it’s the contrast and the context that makes it stick.
God may be eternal, but An Act of God isn’t. It only runs through December 6, so get your live or streaming tickets soon.
Brendan Todt teaches Creative Writing at Morningside College.