Theatre Review: Queen City Theatre An Act of God
By Perry Tannenbaum
After gracing Broadway’s Studio 54 with his presence in the body of Jim Parsons, God has chosen Duke Energy Theatre at Spirit Square for his newest abode and the body of Queen City Theatre Company’s Kristian Wedolowski as his instrument. As may be divined from the title, An Act Of God, there is no intermission as God gives Charlotte his new Ten Commandments – but flanked by two of his angels, the obsequious Gabriel and the trouble-making Michael, there are occasional interruptions, with faux questions from the audience.
The zenith of David Javerbaum’s career, which took a major upswing during his tenure as head writer and executive producer of The Daily Show (not to mention his participation in Jon Stewart’s knee-slapper textbook, America: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction), this script began up in the proverbial cloud as @TheTweetOfGod and coalesced into The Last Testament: A Memoir by God in 2011, four years before Parsons was appointed as his vessel. Not having spoken to us for nearly two millennia, Javerbaum’s God has a lot to get off his chest.
He’s tired of man’s misconceptions about God, tired of our demands upon him, and he’s developed a painful insight: mankind has been fashioned too much in his image, an arrogant, vengeful asshole. Not only has God been thinking about his anger management issues and a reset for the Ten Commandments, he’s contemplating a rollout of Universe 2.0. Steve Jobs seems to be his role model.
Act of God turns out to have two simultaneous organizing principles. While we’re seeing the big reveal (thanks to the multimedia ministrations of Lore Postman Schneider) of the New Ten Commandments, some of which are holdovers from the Original Ten, God is also giving us the lowdown on the early chapters of the Book of Genesis, Adam and Steve through Abraham. Then we’re doing a jump skip to that notorious parenting episode when God allowed his kid to come down here.
We still have to brave Wedolowki’s Uruguayan accent to comprehend the word of God, but he has made large leaps in mastering American cadences, so the wacky incongruity works in his favor after a while. Christopher Jones seems to embody the Serenity Prayer as Gabriel, though we suspect he’s terrified of the boss, and Steven B. Martin as Michael is perpetually flirting with a furlough to the Other Place, sporting the thinnest veneer of obedience.
The show had already taken the Donald aboard when it reopened this past summer on Broadway starring Sean Hayes, but artistic director Glenn Griffin adds new topicality, acknowledging that the bible chronicles “alternative facts” and warning against faith in the Carolina Panthers. He also takes the opportunity to turn his pre-show greetings into an extension of what follows, giving God the benefit of a really big Ed Sullivan-style intro. WFAE radio host Mike Collins is the unseen Voiceover. We only mention that because I haven’t been a guest on Collins’ Charlotte Talks for over a year.