The Roustabouts’ ‘Hand to God’ Humorously Explores Edgy Material

Adam Daniel (photos courtesy of Daren Scott).

Adam Daniel (photos courtesy of Daren Scott).

You might not expect a plot about people dealing with sinful actions, religious issues, and grief to be focused on a teenager and a profane puppet. However, that is part of the appeal of the Tony-nominated comedy, Hand to God. The Roustabouts Theatre Co. is currently staging a great production of this work at the Diversionary Theatre.

Set in a church in Cypress, Texas, a widow, Margery (Rebecca Crigler), oversees a “puppet ministry.” One of the students is her son, Jason (Adam Daniel). Even though Jason tries to be a good and ethical person, he is extremely shy and does not interact well with others. Jason and Margery are struggling with the loss of the patriarch of their family.

In class, Jason begins to use a puppet named Tyrone (created by props designer, Justin Magellanes) to communicate.

The problem is that Tyrone is a sailor-mouthed pervert who might have a mind of his own. It does not take long for Tyrone to take over Jason’s life.

Robert Askins’ script is aimed at older audiences with language, bizarre sex, and occasional comic violence being featured in the narrative.

Outside of a few lines that try too hard to shock, like Tyrone implying in an opening monologue that the devil was invented, his irreverent tone earns many laughs.

His tale is not an attack on religion or Christianity, but is comedically critical about people who strive so hard for perfectionism and to live respected lives. He suggests that the results often lead to major consequences.

Artistic Director, Phil Johnson, keeps the gags rolling, as he stages scenes involving dialogue and over-the-top slapstick and visuals. Those who have seen the play in the past will appreciate Johnson’s depiction of the biggest sequences of the night, including Tyrone’s horror-esque rise to power and an unexpectedly moving resolution that puts a little bit more emphasis on Jason and Margery’s character arcs than some other stagings.

Adam Daniel and Samantha Ginn.

Adam Daniel and Samantha Ginn.

Johnson gets wild performances from his cast with Daniel, Crigler, Samantha Ginn, Devin Wade, and Dave Rivas all hilariously playing deeply flawed individuals. Daniel is spot on portraying Jason’s kind and introverted personality, and his wonderful puppetry skills are on full display whenever Tyrone appears.

The director’s crew does a strong job of showing the chaos that results from Tyrone’s antics. Yi-Chien Lee’s set and Annelise Salazar’s lighting make the central church seem like a peaceful and welcoming place. The work from the artists becomes increasingly twisted as Tyrone causes trouble.

In addition, Paul Durso’s audio features well-timed 1980’s rock songs such as Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and Pam Stompoly’s costumes fit the contrasting personalities of Margery’s students.

Children are not the target audience for this puppet show, but adults who can handle politically incorrect jokes will get a kick out of the madness of Hand to God. It’s a consistently funny, and even thought-provoking, story.

[box] Show times are Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm. [/box]

1 A B C D E G I J L M N O P Q R S T U W
Photo of The Roustabouts Theatre Company
The Roustabouts Theatre Company
P. O. Box 222 1286 University Avenue San Diego California 92103-3312 Work Phone: 619-728-7820 Website: The Roustabouts Theatre Company
Categories: Uncategorized
Return to top.

Leave a Comment