“Hand to God” is a dark comedy being performed through Dec 11 at the theater space shared by Snap! Productions and Shelterbelt Theatre at 3225 California St.
The play, written by Robert Askins and directed by Roxanne Wach, pushes the limits of what is allowed in the theater. Subjects throughout the performance include religion, sex and loss—to name a few. Actors and actresses get far more intimate than in a typical play.
A forewarning to those interested in seeing “Hand to God:” the performance is intended for mature audiences only. The nature of the production is not suitable for children due to its intense language and adult implications.
The plot of “Hand to God” follows Jason and his puppet, Tyrone, in the mostly calm town Cypress, Texas. The play has a relatively small cast, with only five performers carrying out the six roles present in the production.
Jason’s mother, Margery, is still coping with the death of her late husband. Pastor Greg provides her with an opportunity to run the church’s puppet club as a means of distracting her from the recent tragedy.
This puppet club brings in the other two characters of the play, Jessica, the girl Jason has been crushing on, and Timothy, the bully who constantly picks on Jason.
The small town church is the setting for nearly the entire performance. It is this church setting that brings together the odd assortment of characters, most of which harbor hidden goals and desires.
Jason’s strange co-dependence with Tyrone draws the frustration of his mother and strains his relationships with those around him. Things begin to unravel as it becomes unclear as to whether Jason or Tyrone is in control.
Snap! Production’s depiction of this play is hilarious and over the top. With a cast of only five, each performer bears the responsibility to keep the energy and flow of the show moving.
Jon Roberson’s portrayal of Jason and Tyrone is incredible. The switching between two characters,a small town boy and a Satanic puppet, appeared seamless. Roberson’s puppet work illustrated the illusion that the puppet did retain control of Jason at times.
The roles of the other adolescents at the puppet show kept up the shock factor throughout the performance. Jessica, played by Roni Shelley Perez, and Timothy, played by Tyler Swain, gave life and conflict to the church setting they found themselves in.
Finally, the interactions between Pastor Greg, played by Scott Fowler, and Margery, played by Mary-Beth Adams, shed light on darker intentions and desires by those with positions of authority. Fowler’s and Adam’s portrayals of their characters are hilarious and completely outrageous.
Overall the performance is an intense trip, where taboo topics become the norm as the play progresses. The constant profanity and chaos on stage keeps the audience gasping and laughing.
The theater space is relatively small, putting viewers in close quarters with the characters on stage. Those seeking to get a more up close and personal experience should sit near the front.
Students interested in seeing the performance can acquire free tickets through the theater’s Free Student Rush ticket program. Those with a valid student ID can get a free ticket from the box office if there are still tickets available 20 minutes prior to a performance.
More information about Snap! Productions and the upcoming shows can be found the website: snapproductions.com.