"Hand to God is a cautionary tale about the raw reality of big feelings that can't be papered over by sunny signs and a poster of a kitten that says "Blessed are the Purrr in heart." It's also an acting challenge as all the characters are trying to repress what's roiling inside, with words that are often at odd with their feelings. Under the direction of WaterTower Theatre's artistic director, Joanie Schultz, this ensemble hits every target.
Those targets feel all the more close to home because of the immersive setting, executed by Richard Ouelette, which riffs on the concept of the set for the production Schultz directed for Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., in 2016. The Broadway show, which I saw in 2015, worked on a proscenium stage but is far more emotionally intense and moving in a space where patrons can arrive early and make sock puppets as if they are in the church basement with the actors, who move through the entire room as their stage."
"Directors don’t always love every play they direct; sometimes the job is to make it appear as if they love the work. Schultz, whose vision is reshaping one of DFW’s best-known professional theaters, clearly loves this play. Her Hand to God is riotous and grab-the-person-next-to-you scary, sometimes at once. The testament to Askins’ writing is that it’s also challenging and unexpectedly moving."
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