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Theater Review: Four Stars For Heavenly Three-Person Comedy At TheatreWorks

Published: July 20, 2018

NEW MILFORD — TheatreWorks New Milford is sending up an absolutely hilarious, irreverent, and bawdy rendition of David Javerbaum’s An Act of God for its summer services. It more than qualifies as a success deserving of a critic’s blessing.

Featuring the comedic gifts of Matt Austin, who offers up a sarcastic and cynical version of this higher power, the work features God venting a litany of complaints about the demands made on His time by His flock while portraying himself as perfectly imperfect. Just like regular people, only with much more power.

Mr Austin’s supreme being is accompanied by two archangels, Michael (Josh Newey), who takes some punishment for his contrarian ideas and questions and, of course, the most renowned angel, Gabriel (Suzanne Powers). Gabriel is the sidekick to God’s routine.

The Ten Commandments serve as the format, and they are found in need of updating and clarification. With these directives in play, there is wide berth given to their interpretation. Mr Austin dives right in with a sardonic sensibility and silly sort of commanding physicality.

The performance by Mr Austin is of comedic excellence. This actor is a confident performer with superb timing and inflection. He portrays this tête-à-tête with mankind with intimacy and audacity, accompanied by some sudden outbursts. His reveal bars no holds. This god is multifaceted, and He wants us to know it in no uncertain terms. Mr Austin was born for this role.

Playing the angel with mildly stated confrontational questions, Mr Newey is put to the test. His character endures through some punishment for his challenges. His portrayal is physically flawless and sympathetic. Mr Newey provides the perfect foil.

Skipping, tapping, and jigging her way through the tale of the Ten Commandments, Suzanne Powers is charming and entertaining as the angel Gabriel. She reveals an innocence and playfulness that are the antidote to Michael’s doubts.

Director Katherine Ray is to be commended for her casting prowess as well as the simplicity of her directorial choices. The minimalist set, use of the space, and allowing the spotlight to shine on the writing and talent with which it was delivered reflects the work of directorial acumen.

Truly, this hysterically funny play is an act of broad comedy at its best. Make your way to New Milford and take a seat for a lesson in laughter.

Please note, TheatreWorks is advising this production is not recommended for children.

Performances continue through August 4, with curtain Friday and Saturday evenings at 8, and one matinee on Sunday, July 29, at 2 pm.

Tickets are $25, $20 for students and military personnel with ID, and all seating is reserved.

Reservations can be made online at theatreworks.us or by calling 860-350-6863. TheatreWorks New Milford is at 5 Brookside Avenue, with parking available behind The Catherine E. Lillis Administration Building, 50 East Street.

Act of God at TheatreWorks -- Newey, Austin & Powers

Matt Austin, center, was born to play the role of God in the current TheatreWorks production, according to Newtown Bee Theater Reviewer Elizabeth Young. Joining Mr Austin for performances of David Javerbaum’s one-act comedy An Act of God are the equally talented Josh Newey as Michael, left, and Suzanne Powers as Gabriel.
—Richard Pettibone photos
Act of God at TheatreWorks -- Austin

Matt Austin’s performance is comedic excellence.

 

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