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An Act of God at The Vaults, London | Review

AN ACT OF GOD - Tom Bowen (Gabriel) Zoe Lyons (God) Michael (Matt Tedford) Photo Geraint Lewis.
AN ACT OF GOD – Tom Bowen (Gabriel) Zoe Lyons (God) Michael (Matt Tedford) Photo Geraint Lewis.

An Act of God was first seen in New York in 2015, written by the American David Javerbaum and based on his ‘@TheTweetOfGod’ which has over six million followers. Some of his tweets are quoted on a double page spread in the programme. The ‘play’ concerns a dissatisfied deity who, weary of the original ten commandments, decides to deliver a fresh set of rules for the modern world. It is billed as a “sinfully funny comedy” but is actually most successful when it is being serious about issues of the day. American style humour does not always travel well, and perhaps most Americans know their Old Testament better than we do, so the author has “rewritten the play to feature bespoke material for Zoe Lyons and a British audience” In fact the most amusing moments were, as one might have expected, those that dealt with British Politics and Brexit!

As God, Zoe Lyons worked extremely hard. She is onstage for the entire 85 minutes of the show, usually standing down stage centre in front of a huge double bed, which is rarely used, and sounding angry or annoyed for most of the time. She more than makes the most of some very weak material, often daring us not to laugh or at least smile.

She is aided by two archangels, both of whom seem under-used. Gabriel (Tom Bowen) spends much of his time writing obscenities in chalk on the wall and is rarely allowed to interact with God. When he does, it lifts the show for a short while as Zoe Lyons has someone to spar with, and he proves that he is someone to watch.

The director, Benji Sperring, has positioned Archangel Michael (Matt Tedford) at the rear of the auditorium for most of the evening, so that those audience members in front of him have to turn around whenever he speaks and those behind him just see his back, which is tiresome. Like Tom Bowen, he proves himself very able, with good comic timing, but again he just does not do enough – just asks a few questions which have been supposedly put by members of the audience, but at least this gives Zoe Lyons chances to interact again.

The pace of the whole show is very even, with little light and shade, hampered by the fact that very little of the simple but imaginative set design by Tim Shortall is actually used, when there is scope for movement. One longs for some real physical energy to galvanise the production, but neither the script nor the direction allow for this.

Simple lighting design is by Clancy Flynn and far too infrequent marvellous magic effects are by Scott Penrose.

3 Star Review

Review by John Groves

After many millennia, and in just 90 minutes, God (award-winning comedian Zoe Lyons as seen on Mock The Week and Celebrity Masterchef) assisted by her devoted angels Michael (Matt Tedford, aka ‘Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho’) and Gabriel (Tom Bowen, Johnny Castle in ‘Dirty Dancing the Musical’) will answer some of the deepest questions that have plagued mankind since creation.

In this very alternative Christmas message, An Act of God sees a dissatisfied deity, weary of the original Ten Commandments, delivering a new version: a fresh set of rules for the modern world. This sinfully funny comedy delivers a new meaning to divine intervention as The “One” gives the first and last word on everything mankind has wrought on the planet.

James Seabright presents
An Act of God
by David Javerbaum
directed by Benji Sperring
27 November­ 2019 – 12 January 2020
https://www.thevaults.london/

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  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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