Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

An Act of God
Signature Theatre
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of The Lover and The Collection

Tom Story, Jamie Smithson, and Evan Casey
Photo by Margot Schulman
Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, has a history of working with high-profile talent from Chita Rivera to Stephen Sondheim. So why not an entertaining audience with the creator of the universe?

An Act of God, David Javerbaum's breezy comedy, brings God into the compact ARK Theatre in the person of beloved Washington actor and seven-time Helen Hayes Award nominee Tom Story. The supreme being loves theater, he explains, and he wants to take this opportunity to release a revised version of the Ten Commandments that will eliminate any ambiguity about what he wants.

Now, even God needs some help now and then, and that's where archangels Michael (Evan Casey) and Gabriel (Jamie Smithson) come in. Michael is basically an eternal office boy, doing whatever the Big Guy wants and chatting up audience members—and occasionally getting a divine smackdown—while Gabriel provides trenchant quotes from the Bible. Robert Croghan has costumed all three of them in tasteful white suits with gold accoutrements.

Story has just the right attitude for all this: world-weary, exasperated at the shortcomings of his creations (maybe he should have spent more than six days creating them, he muses), and happy to let people know he always has a reason for what he does. Whether it's always a good reason is another question.

God as envisioned by Javerbaum, derived from the playwright's Twitter account @TheTweetOfGod, admits he has anger management problems and says awe and panic are his two favorite human emotions—but he, not they, should cause them. He tells audience members not to kill in his name, pointing out that he has no trouble smiting those he doesn't like and doesn't want to help. (Amusingly, a pesky fly bedeviled Story at one point on press night, suggesting the limits of God's omniscience.)

Director Eleanor Holdridge uses a light touch as she lays out Javerbaum's 75-minute sketch (the playwright has 13 Emmy Awards as a writer on "The Daily Show") on Daniel Conway's just-this-side-of-kitschy set with its marble columns, walls made of blue sky and clouds, porthole windows trimmed with scrollwork, and rococo white loveseat.

The tone is over-the-top satiric but not hostile. Among other things, God makes clear that the Bible is not infallibly true, offering an alternative description of life in the Garden of Eden, unexpected humor in the story of Cain and Abel, and some inside information about Noah's ark.

Signature Theatre
An Act of God
October 3rd - November 26th, 2017
By David Javerbaum
God: Tom Story
Michael: Evan Casey
Gabriel: Jamie Smithson
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge
ARK Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave.
Arlington, VA 22206
Ticket Information: 703-820-9771 or 1-800-955-5566 or