Bristol Riverside Theatre has provided professional theater in Bucks County for over thirty years. They have opened this season with An Act of God by David Javerbaum whose resume includes writing for Jon Stewart, David Letterman, and Steven Colbert. He has written for both The Oscars and The Tonys, as well as co-writing comic music for Cry Baby on Broadway and A Colbert Christmas. In An Act of God, he has written a one person tour de force performed on Broadway originally by Jim Parsons and then by Sean Hayes.
Veteran director Susan D. Atkinson has her own little twist by having God inhabit the body of comic Kim Wayans who is familiar to the audience for her amazing work on the ground-breaking In Living Color as well as her writing, producing, directing and performing on several other sitcoms. Wayans brings great comic chops to this fascinating piece.
The first thing one notices Jason Simms gorgeous set. It sets the tone. It creates a majestic canvas for God/Wayans to strut her stuff for the audience. The concept is simple. God has chosen the body of the talented Ms. Wayans to appear and talk to us. Ms. Wayans is not aware of this. We are listening to God. God has decided to update the ten commandments and she does so in wonderfully comic fashion. At various times God sounds like a talk show host, a politician, and an A list celebrity. For many of the jokes you will here a rimshot in your head.
The fascinating thing is how she keeps the audience riveted through her riffing. She is also wonderful at leaving the comedy for some serious moments and then get effortlessly back to the one-liners. Ms. Wayans is ably assisted by her “wing men” The Angel Gabriel performed with faux stentorian charm by Peter DeLaurier and the Archangel Michael (Benjamin Brown) who roams the audience with questions that spring from his own doubts. Both make a great contribution to the show.
Director Atkinson makes many good choices with the assistance of Conor Mulligan’s lighting design and William Neal’s sound design. Linda B. Stockton creates a beautiful look for the actors and takes full advantage of Ms. Wayans beauty and height to create a truly God-like appearance.
The opening night audience was very receptive to the references and inside jokes, but not always in the same places. I believe however that it is the nature of the play. An Act of God runs until October 13th. It is witty and thought provoking both and a good evening of theater. For information call 215-785-0100 or visit www.brtstage.org.
Photos by Mark Garvin