Through December 5|
HAND TO GOD Road Less Traveled Productions/RLTP Theater
Most people, whether believers or, probably accept there is evil.
Many who are believers probably think the Devil exists and works among humans.
Certainly, it varies religion to religion and denomination to denomination.
Robert Askins’ “Hand to God,” takes place in what appears to be a small evangelistic church in Cypress, Texas, mostly in the basement where the youth of the congregation assemble.
That’s where the youth theater troupe assembles, trying to tell the Biblical stories in the form of puppets, not uncommon in some denominations.
It’s also where the problems in the congregation play out, the struggling recent widow Margery (Jenn Stafford); Pastor Greg (John Kreuzer), who is counselling Margery and putting the moves on her (in a pastorly way); and, three teens.
Timmy (Henry Farleo) is getting it on with Margery.
Jessica (Sabrina Kahwaty) is the adult among the kids.
Margery’s son, Jason (Dan Urtz), is the really disturbed one.
He lives behind a puppet, (Tyrone) and it’s pretty clear Tyrone isn’t just a puppet brought to life by Jason.
It’s that scene between Prince Hal and Glendower when the Welsh prince tells the English prince, “I can summon spirits from the vasty deep.”
And, Jason can and they come.
Of course, it could also be that human conflict between good and evil in the brain and conscience.
It shakes the tiny world and wreaks devastation in the carefully organized kids’ room, leaving toys and other material sprayed across the room.
You could look at some of this as funny, especially Jason and Tyrone, particularly when Jessica brings out her puppet, Jolene.
Jason is forced to deal with Tyrone and his extended inability to get the puppet off his hand to get separation of soul.
“Hand To God” is a look at that thin line against evil and where it can take any person.
Clearly, this is a play, but it looks at issues which can be painful.
This Road Less Traveled production benefits from a series of factors, including having originally opened in the Before Times, before a virus controlled life.
Director John Hurley has Dyan Burlingame’s set and Katie Menke’s sound design.
At the core of what he has is Urtz’ performance as Jason.
He makes this tangled look at good and evil plausible.
Have you ever known evil?
I have and it’s terrifying, looking across a courtroom at a man who raped and killed and you can see nothing in his eyes.
What Urtz does is convey some of that, through his puppet, along with the rest of a strong cast.
That’s why “Hand to God” is truly worth seeing and thinking about in this world.
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