by Beki Pineda
OH, MY GOD! – Written by Anat Gov; Directed by Richard Pegg. Produced by Theatre Or and the Mizel Arts and Culture Center (presented at the Newman Center, 2344 East Iliff, Denver, and the Boulder Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Avenue, Boulder) through October 14. Tickets available at theatreor.com.
This interesting production is double cast; the cast seen included the charismatic Chris Bleau as God, Gina Walker as Ella, the therapist, and Ryan Omar Stack as her son Lior. At the Newman Center (two performances on October 6) and the Boulder JCC (two performances on October 13 and 14), you will see the return to the stage of Marc Soloway who is the Rabbi of Congregation Bonai Shalom in Boulder. The counterpart for Ella is Sheila Ivy Traister, an accomplished and talented actress, and the alternate Lior is Anthony Colangelo.
Lior is a severely autistic nonverbal teenager who has difficulty expressing emotion. While not her normal practice, Ella, his mother and a professional therapist, has allowed a patient to come to her house for a session because he sounded so troubled. When he arrives, the patient identifies himself as God and professes that he is experiencing a crisis of faith. His despondency is because his greatest creation has turned out so poorly. Namely us. He is so discouraged that he is thinking about turning off the lights and starting all over again. “I created a farce and my punishment is to watch it, day in and day out.” He gives Ella one session to change his mind.
There follows a lively debate on the value of mankind, the truth behind some Biblical events (letting Noah and his family survive the flood was a big mistake), and of history from God’s perspective. Ella pulls out all of her therapist checklist, but it’s hard to counsel someone who had no parents to blame. Since we’re all still here, it’s hard to disguise the fact that she was at least partially successful. As her reward (would God have a credit card?), he gives her an unexpected but heartfelt gift in return.
While Chris presents a very handsome and well spoken God, to this believer he seemed a little young for the role. It would be interesting to see what the gravitas of an older Rabbi/actor would bring to the representation of the Divinity. Gina gives Ella warmth, motherly support and a desperation to solve God’s problems in time to save mankind. She holds up her end of the arguments despite the interruptions of her son. In a near cameo role, Ryan gave a credible performance as the autistic son.
The smartly furnished home office designed by Director Richard Pegg looks well lived in and gives God an immediate sight gag by matching him to a poster on the wall. All in all, an interesting theatre evening that poses the question – Is God human after all?
A WOW factor of 7.5.