Director Nick Fagan has gathered some of Adelaide’s most enthusiastic performers for this blasphemous black comedy which is in turn shocking and hysterical. It explores the oft-confusing notions of faith, morality, and our own human nature.
Jason (Matt Houston) is a shy, dutiful, polite teenager whose mother runs the local Christian Puppet School. He is madly in love with Jessica (Laura Antoniazzi) but must watch on as the brash bad boy Timothy (Tom Tassone) cultivates all the attention, and not only from Jessica. Margery (Emily Branford) is Jason’s mother and is a sexually repressed recent widow with two suitors vying for her attention – Timothy and Pastor Greg (Brendan Cooney).
Throughout Act One, we get to know the characters, their strengths, and weaknesses and become enamored with Jason’s reliance on Tyrone (his puppet) to express his true feelings. Tyrone becomes a pivotal character as he grows in strength and devilish vocabulary. Sadly all good things must come to an end and Tyrone gains a life of his own becoming the Devil Incarnate.
This play is almost a cross between Avenue Q and Jekyll and Hyde without the music. All performers are outstanding in this production, however, Matt Houston’s portrayal of Jason/Tyrone is superb. Your eyes are telling you that he is speaking the Puppet but your brain transcends reality and you begin to focus on the puppet alone as an individual entity separate from Jason with a true life of its own. Given the fast-paced dialogue at times between Jason and Tyrone, not once was there a slip of character which was a true credit to Houston’s performance.
The set was simple, appropriate and uncluttered allowing the cast to move freely around the space and the props and costumes were indicative of the characters and times. Richard Parkhill’s lighting as usual was exquisite and thoughtful, supporting the production without drawing attention to itself.
This fast-paced, thoughtful and gritty production is only two hours long including an interval, and is definitely one not to be missed. If you love Book of Mormon as a musical, you will adore Hand To God.