Watch out! As if spinning off from Avenue Q, another foul-mouthed puppet dominates the stage. This one is sinister. Almost evil. It’s alive in a church basement. But what’s behind the mind connected to the arm connected to the wriggling fingers? Pray for answers as you delve into Off-Broadway Alliance Award, multi-Tony-nominated comedy Hand to God by Robert Askins. SNAP Productions snapped up this hit, one that just finished a 10-month Broadway run earlier this year.
In a devoutly religious, relatively quiet small Texas town, a recently widowed woman takes over a puppet show as a kind of therapy. There are lessons to be taught about the Bible, and her introverted son really gets into it. Especially when sexual attractions emerge among the human congregants, the boy’s cloth character announces that he’s Satan and engages in expletive-loaded diatribes and spews nasty backstage gossip.
The play “exposes the base impulses, the sexual, self-destructive, potentially violent ones, that just about everyone harbors to some small degree … a weird mirror of our unsettling times,” according to The New York Times. With such praise as “darkly delightful … flat-out hilarious … merry and scary.”
Author Robert Askins said that his play is “about honesty, a southern regionalism that’s fairly unknown in the North.”
He’s from Texas and his Princes of Waco was produced and developed by Milwaukee’s Youngblood. And has had numerous off-Broadway productions including Anger and the Doughnut, I’d Leave You But We Have Reservations and Love Song of an Albanian Sous Chef. Askins also regularly produces a site-specific brunch-time serial All the Little Fishes in a New York Greek restaurant. http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsA/askins-robert.html
The cast: MaryBeth Adams, Scott Fowler, Roni Shelley Perez, Jon Roberson and Tyler Swain. Roxanne Wach is the director.
Despite the puppets, this item is not for the kids. You probably gathered that.
Hand To God runs Nov.17-Dec.11, SNAP Productions, 3225 California Street Thurs-Sat. 8 p.m. Sun: 6 p.m. Sun. Dec. 11: 2 p.m. Tickets: $12-$20. http://www.snapproductions.com/