6 Nisan 2016 Çarşamba

HAND TO GOD, YOU'RE GOING TO LIKE THIS...

So, this was actually a Christmas present. That statement may well make you despair of my writing schedule – but I can assure you I am not that far behind. I just have very disorganized friends. They meant to take me to a play for Christmas you see. We ended up doing it in February. That is how well coordinated our schedules are. It’s honestly enough to make one want to throw the towel in completely…
I am glad we didn’t though. When we took our seats and caught our first, pre-show glimpse of the set one thing was clear. This was going to be either a “love” or a “hate” affair. The reviews seemed to agree. After we booked the tickets I coincidentally ran into some very well-known publications reviewing the play and honestly, they didn’t have enough derogatory terms to insult it with. One of my friends especially doesn’t go to the theatre that often so I was quite worried about poisoning her for life against the art form.


But the inevitable happened, the curtain came up and we entered the world of Tyrone, which happens to be in Texas. And incidentally Jason (Harry Melling – if the name is familiar it’s because you may know him better as Dudley Dursely from the Harry Potter franchise). Jason is going through a bit of a moment. His father has just passed away – which is hard enough on anyone. His mother is trying to cope by running a Christian hand puppet workshop. It only has two students (one the school bully who is there mainly by force) and naturally, Jason is roped in whether he wants to be there or not… The workshop isn’t going that well but there is nothing really out of the ordinary going on, well, except for one small matter the others aren’t aware of… Tyrone – Jason’s hand puppet - isn’t quite like the others… In fact, as far as Jason can tell he is completely sentient and out of control – and is about to take over Jason’s life if someone – anyone! – won’t do something fast…
Before we get to pondering and analyzing, I just want to get one statement, straight from the gut, out there. This was by far and away one of the funniest things – if not THE funniest thing – I have ever seen in my life. I howled with laughter, stamped on the floor and gave the play a standing ovation. On the other hand, do be warned. If you consider yourself a Christian (especially) or a believer in any way and if you are easily offended - steer well clear of this play. It bars no holds and packs a lot of punches, mostly aimed at the religious establishment and the social order we live in today. I saw one review (positive this time) describe the play as Sesame street crossed with The Exorcist. Cant’ think of a more accurate description.


Now, I need to stress one point. You may have gotten the rather mistaken impression that this is some kind of dry and slightly off the wall religious and political satire. No. It’s more like the kind of drunken rant you have when you have had several whiskeys too many and you are howling with rage against “the establishment”. It’s the kind of conversation you have at work dos and never quite get round to living down. But there is not where the inappropriate behavior stops. The “below the belt” stuff is… Way off the wall… I mean you need to be not shocked easily on many, many levels.
Harry Melling literally bowled me over with his performance in this show. It is not a great show of ventriloquism – as most reviews have already pointed out one can clearly see his lips moving throughout the show. The point of the show is not to dissimulate that Jason and Tyrone are one and the same. In fact, the more the play goes on the more obvious it is that the aim of the game is to explore the two sides of Jason’s personality. But I was absolutely blown away by the way Melling was able to portray the two opposing characters on stage at the same time, transitioning so smoothly from one to the other yet separating the two characters so well and so clearly. A feat in performance and acting technique, this much is for sure.

Hand to God is an uproarious step into the unknown. I want to gush on and on about it but really, a lot of the comedy comes from the element of surprise. And as this play burns the rulebook and bends over forward, backwards and sidewise to surprise and shock you it would be so very unfair to rat on it. It’s still playing at the Vaudeville theatre and cheap tickets are relatively easy to come by. I would say it’s well worth the jump – and the stiches you are about to get in your sides… 

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