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REVIEW: Jim Parsons in ‘An Act of God’

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By Loreli Mojica

For those familiar with Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper from the popular TV show The Big Bang Theory, which is likely the majority of those who would attend this show, prepare to be surprised by An Act of God.

While the humor in The Big Bang Theory is benign even for a network, this play most definitely is not primetime television. If you’re looking to see the same quirky comedic content as The Big Bang Theory, you won’t find it here. But if, on the other hand, you are looking for a fresh, culturally relevant, and visually striking experience, you’ve come to the right place.

In the play, God descends from his heavenly throne and occupies the body of the beloved television star, Parsons, in order to invalidate misinformation purveyed on his behalf. Drawing from the Abrahamic faith traditions, God retells several well-known biblical narratives including Adam and Eve, The Nativity Story, and The Book of Job with a raunchy, irreverent twist.

Based on the book of the same name by David Javerbaum, An Act of God is teeming with witty one-liners, most of which are directly derived from the book’s collection of tweets from @thetweetofGod. Nevertheless, the one that succinctly sums up the central message of the piece is, “I made you in my image, and I’m an asshole.

The writing is unapologetically funny mixed in with welcomed moments of heartfelt sincerity that Parsons executes with perfection. Yet, the defining feature of this script is the meticulous detail with which God’s character is created. The paradigm of God as a flawless ethereal presence is shattered by the play’s shameless unveiling of his jealousy, hotheaded temper, and earthy humor.

The set design is absolutely phenomenal, the opening curtain alone—for those going to see it I won’t ruin it for you—but the surprise is incredible. The lights, sound effects, and beautifully simple yet versatile stage were all executed without even the slightest fault.

In the same way the show makes fun of how tired Don McLean must be of the song American Pie, Parsons appears to be fighting against being inextricably linked to The Big Bang Theory by playing a vastly different character. In fact, in an otherwise highly interactive show, Parsons coldly ignored one audience member who yelled out Sheldon Cooper’s catchphrase, “Bazinga!” after delivering a punch line. Just as Harry Potter fanatics were outraged when Daniel Radcliffe shed his wizard garb and mounted a horse naked in Equus, Big Bang fans are very likely to be upset about seeing the familiar face of socially awkward Sheldon evocatively discuss sodomy, politics, and religion.

Despite Parsons’ larger than life personality in An Act of God, the true showstoppers here are his two angelic henchmen, Gabriel (Tim Kazurinsky) and Michael (Christopher Fitzgerald) who have the most glorious singing voices that genuinely save the closing song from utter ruin—let’s just say Parsons should stick to acting. Fitzgerald, in particular, gives an impressive performance displaying impeccable theatrical skill and flexibility.

While some audience members laughed more than others, I can easily say there wasn’t a single person who left the theatre without cracking a smile at least a couple of times throughout the show. I would recommend bringing spouses, siblings or friends with a lax stand on faith and social issues. But do not, under any circumstances, bring your pious Evangelical grandmother….please.

For more information and tickets to An Act of God, which is currently playing at Studio 54, visit www.anactofgod.com.

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Center On The Aisle -- or #COTA) for short -- was founded by theater expert, Steve Schonberg in 2014, and the site now boasts a team of 15 expert writers and reviewers. Steve created the site to help casual theatergoers easily access informative and entertaining content to help them engage more with the theater, and make confident and informed decisions when selecting shows. With this mission, the #COTA team applies their deep theater knowledge and attendance at hundreds of shows a year to create the site's content. That's quite a task! Covering Broadway, off-Broadway, cabaret, dance, music and more, the #COTA team provides a range of valuable perspectives to inform and engage readers. After all, the theater is part of our history, heritage and cultural identity - it should be engaged in as often as possible. Welcome, again, to #COTA and please come again.

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