Monday, October 31, 2016


By Chuck Graham,


Paige Davis makes a very mod God in ATC's current production.


Arizona Theatre Company's 50th anniversary season is perking along quite nicely. After avoiding the guillotine last summer because of a $2 million shortfall, ATC opened right on schedule last month with the very popular royal fantasy “King Charles III.”

Now the company brings us the bright and bouncy comedy “An Act of God” by TV writer David Javerbaum (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”.)

Relax, Christian conservatives. Everything will be fine. It's true that the more relaxed liberals in ATC's audience will get a few more laughs out of this, but offending the faithful is not Javerbaum's objective. He has never written a line for the joyfully offensive and long-running television series “South Park.”

And ATC's decision to cast a woman, Paige Davis, to play God isn't a statement of gender power. Technically, the script says God has chosen to be revealed in the person of Paige Davis.

This implies God could have chosen to appear as either gender. Productions in New York and Los Angeles cast white men as God's image on Earth.

The main schtick is that God is upset over the way her ten commandments have been misinterpreted and manipulated by latter-day moralizers. It turns out she wrote a lot more commandments, too. There was never supposed to be just ten.

Most of the show is God's re-interpretation of the original 10 and discussion of the new ones she wants installed.

ATC cast African-American Max Lawrence as the archangel Michael. God in the image of Paige Davis is also assisted by another famous angel, Gabriel (James Gleason). These two, God says, are her wing men.

If there is any deeper message in “An Act of God” it is to suggest people lighten up in their own personal judgment of the LGBTQ community. God does reveal that before there was Adam and Eve, there was Adam and Steve.

An all-white and heavenly stage design by Lauren Helpern sets the tone for God's return in the Earth-like form of Paige Davis, who is also clad in white and looking very chic.

It seems that God has a much hipper attitude than we suspected. She sounds pretty savvy about show business, too, and is particularly interested in today's celebrities. Not surprising, God is also a big fan of “Godspell” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

So here's the take-away. “An Act of God” is an amusing evening of comedy intended to entertain rather than to shock or startle. And if you still aren't sure about going, remember that it only lasts 85 minutes.

If a ball game is more your kind of live theater, but your companion will insist you attend at least one play this season, you won't have an easier time of it than “An Act of God.”

Performances continue at various times, Tuesdays through Sundays, to Nov. 12 at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Tickets are $41-$68. For details and reservations, or 622-2823.


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