Arts Club Theatre Company

Hand to God by Robert Askins

Dates and Venue
May 25 – June 15, 2017, Mon – Thurs 7.30pm, Fri & Sat 8pm, (matinees on Wed at 1.30pm, and Sat at 2pm) | Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre

Reviewer Maria Figueiredo

Robert Askins wrote this play reflecting on his own life experiences in a small town called Cypress, Texas where he grew up in a congregation of Fundamentalist Christians. Churches often used puppets to illustrate to children how to keep the Word of God and be good. Simplistic solutions to complex emotional suffering resulted in much anger especially among the youth of society. This is vividly portrayed through Tyrone, the angry and devilish puppet.

Oliver Castillo (Jason/Tyrone) plays his part brilliantly and is able to display a rare ability to show a mild-mannered, introverted teenager and a wild, angry and tortured Tyrone (puppet). Tyrone through his creative ventriloquist, keeps the audience laughing and gives us goose
bumps as he embarks on a reign of terror with fierce, physical force. Jennifer Lines as Margery plays her role well as the hurting widow and the confused mother. The three other characters-- Shekhar Paleja as Pastor Greg, Julie Leung as mild-mannered Jessica and Mike Gill as the expletive-spouting and sexually active teenager, Timothy perform their supporting roles with zest and pizzaz.

The props in the play are simple and effective. The scenes move with ease. The “swings” and the entrance of Jessica through a window with her girl-puppet while adding some lightness to the play, remind us that these are young people trying to unravel deep conflicting, sentiments.

This play is definitely not for children, nor for those who get upset with profane language and vulgarity. There is plenty of that in words and actions. But underneath it all, is much truth and pure human emotion. The battle we often fight within ourselves, the conflict between the good and the bad in each of us is artfully portrayed. It reminds us of an old Native American Cherokee legend that says “the wolf” who wins depends on the one we feed.

© 2017 Maria Figueiredo