Dobama Theatre
Professional Equity House Theatre
Thru May 21st
Content Advisory: Adult Language, Violence, Graphic Puppet Sex
What a town we live in. Playhouse Square has put us on the national map, however, the level of excellence doesn’t stop there at all. In fact, it is thriving and cursing and fuck-youing its way in front of every audience coming to see Hand of God at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights. What a joyful barrage of verbal warfare, that is sure to insult or entertain or both, every audience member that interacts with Tyrone, the puppet, and this fabulous cast of two-sided coins.
We are introduced to three children of Cypress, Texas, Jason (Luke Wehner*), Timothy (Austin Gonser+), and Jessica (Molly Israel+). They are being taught the teachings of Jesus Christ by their teacher Margery (Tricia Bestic*). Margery has embraced the idea of a Christian Sock Puppet Ministry. Thank you. This spiritual journey is supervised by Pastor Greg (David Bugher^). But, one of the sock puppets has a different idea and identity of their own to contend with. That is where the raucous humor begins. And, that is where real questions are raised that challenge us to reflect on what is truth. What do we say? As opposed to what we wish we could say. The power and turmoil of truth is a bitch.
Tyrone and Jason (Luke Wehner)
A masterful performance is turned in by Wehner, as our lead human Jason, and his demonic puppet Tyrone. Wehner does a terrific job at creating two distinct personalities that contrast each other is hilarious ways, and also, enable thoughtful consideration of our life choices. His comedic timing is honed, and tireless. The puppet manipulation was a complete scream to watch. It is like Hamlet talking to his skull, but the skull won’t let you get a word in. Can’t you picture it? Hamlet: “Alas, poor Yorick!” Tyrone, the skull: “Fuck you!” Fantastic job, Mr. Wehner!
Jason and Margery ( Luke Wehner and Tricia Bestic)
Watching the journey of Bestic through the character of Margery is a hoot and a half. She brilliantly navigates being a Christian soldier, a bereaved wife, and then, overtaken by her own vaginal sock puppet. Mama has her own needs sometimes. Hello. This journey is hilarious, but also, there are moments that affect your heart in the deepest of ways. It is a beautiful arc to witness.
As the other kids in the basement puppet sessions, Gonser and Israel are a treat. Gonser is a walking erection who easily transforms into the class bully at a moments notice. His physique also helps him seduce the teacher during a scene where the line “I want you to eat it”, is not about vegetables. Israel is wonderful and funny, and is instrumental is making the puppet sex scene burn directly into your rods and cones forever. Both are pure delights.
Burgher certainly gives Pastor Greg the biggest set of blue balls in Cypress. He puts together a beautifully tortured, stressed and religious man who is tested on all levels as those around him completely lose their minds trying to wade through the demolition of their own truths.
One of the most magical scenes that you will remember is the puppet sex scene. This tour de force of masterful puppet love rivals Team America: World Police. HILARIOUS!
All of this insanity is beautifully directed and guided by Director Matthew Wright. Casting is wonderful, and Mr. Wright does an outstanding job of keeping the pace bright, but also allows moments to sit and create of moment of reflection of just how insane real life can be, although, this shit seems real sometimes.
My only other feedback would be that Tyrone might give House Left a little more face time. Tyrone seems to work the center and House Right a bit more. I wanted more of that demonic sock face up in my face.
Ben Needham creates a revolving set of delight. With scene changes beautifully structured and executed. Marcus Dana has a solid Lighting Design. Richard Ingraham provides a vocally balanced evening for the ear. Tesia Dugan Benson costumed the piece with energy and appropriate dress. Props Designer Yesenia Real-Rivera did a great job. Technical Director David Tilk pulls all the elements together with professional flourish.
Stage Manager Joel Rathbone* called a great show. Fight Choreographer Ryan Zarecki added some kick ass slapping and fighting scenes.
This show is funny. Also, there is dialogue that will make you think about how much we all could use a little Tyrone in our lives.
Photo Credit: Steve Wagner Photography
* denotes member Actors’ Equity Association
+ denotes Equity Membership Candidate
^ denotes He is his own man
Kevin Kelly
Showtimes thru May 21st, 2017
7:30pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2:30pm Sundays (4/23 at 7:30 instead)
Runtime: 120 minutes w/15 minute intermission
$10-$29 Reserved Seating
(216) 932-3396
Order Tickets Online
Dobama Theatre
2340 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118