By Lucy Komisar
If cleverness is next to godliness (my revised meme), Jim Parsons soars on heavenly wings on both counts. His send-up of religion, believers and politicians is a holy hoot.
This is a performance in the tradition of Jon Stewart, where trenchant political and social commentary is done as comedy. And where rapier wit is a lot sharper at spearing the truth than the blather of the punditocracy. Parsons has the flippant mood of a Daily Show guy.
Of course, he has a script by David Javerbaum, who is (surprise), former head writer of the Daily Show, and smart direction by Joe Mantello.
Parsons, who plays God, wears a white robe over slim black pants and red sneakers and speaks avuncularly with the accent he picked up in his native Houston.
His aides, er angels, are in white suits and wings, Gabriel carries a guitar case that opens to reveal a gold-encrusted Gutenberg bible. Michael clutches a remote.
Is anything sacred? I hope not. The set includes a marble replica of the Ten Commandments filched (or maybe borrowed) from a courthouse lawn in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But God is about to deliver some new rules.
“This time there will be no Moses, no intermediary,” God explains. “I‘ve decided to give My new commandments directly to the Jewish people. That‘s why I‘m here on Broadway.”
They‘re not the Commandments you may have heard about. The fourth Commandment is “Thou shalt separate Me and state.”
God explains, “If I believed, for example, that the government should have the legal right to fund faith-based charities using taxpayer money, I don‘t have to set about doing that by adding a budgetary rider to a farm provisions bill. I could smite the opposition with leprosy. You see what I‘m saying?”
He tells America that it is blessed. “I blessed you with the two groups of European settlers who first colonized you: The Puritans, an odd-hatted people who imbued the new nation‘s character with a healthy sense of wrong and wronger.
And the tobacco farmers of Jamestown, who showed the world that the new ‘land of opportunity’ could bestow success on anyone willing to rely on hard work, the extermination of one race, the enslavement of another, the mass cultivation of a death crop, and moxie.”
Oh, and most recently, He blessed America with Barack Hussein Obama, “My Messenger; the deliverer; the Messiah… Well, that was the plan. Yea, I‘m disappointed too.” A New York audience loves that.
Now, God is planning a new creation, Universe 2.0, where “every prayer will be promptly responded to by one of our team of online angels in either heaven or India.”
“On the plus side,” He says, “I‘m not going to obliterate you. So that‘s good, right? I‘ve cancelled Armageddon. The logistics of that would have been a nightmare. I mean, have you ever read the Book of Revelation? It‘s pure mishegas.
You‘re gonna be fine, people. You‘re my greatest creation. And I‘m… (In his most honest moment, he makes his most damning admission.) I‘m your worst.”
But hey, “come on, you don‘t need me anymore,” He declares. “You‘re all grown up now. I used to do the flooding. Now you do it on your own! You people are amazing!”
Lightening, cloud swirls, then red fire. Javerbaum and Parsons are warning the bible thumpers that if God was the Creator, they are the Destroyers. It‘s the fire next time. But all in great fun. Hope the producers bring this back for the next religious holiday season.
“An Act of God.” Written by David Javerbaum; directed by Joe Mantello. Studio 54, 254 West 54th St., New York City. 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250. Opened May 28, 2015; closes Aug 2, 2015. 7/21/15.