“I wish I had appreciated how difficult it is to focus when you’re laughing your head off!”
WHO: David Grimes, Director
WHAT: “Mild-mannered, shy Jason has sought solace in his mother’s Christian puppet ministry after the death of his father. In the basement of a conservative church in Cypress, Texas, Jason discovers a blossoming talent for puppetry and thinks that things might just turn out okay. His mom and Pastor Greg seem pleased, the local bully is largely indifferent, and his puppetry has even caught the eye of the cute girl in the youth group.
But the youth group has a monster in their midst: Jason’s puppet, Tyrone. As Tyrone’s foul-mouthed, irreverent, and devilishly funny influence over Jason steadily grows, no one’s secrets are safe. Not content with mere anarchy, Tyrone won’t be satisfied until
he’s dragged everyone to hell and back.
Is Tyrone simply Jason’s voice of grief and rage, or is Tyrone something far more sinister? Is Tyrone what he claims to be: the devil?
Hand to God, a play the New Yorker called Sesame Street meets The Exorcist, is a hilarious, lightening-paced, very adult comedy that explores the startling fragile nature of faith, morality, and familial ties that bind.”
WHERE: Assembly Roxy
DATES: 9 – 13 April (not Friday 12)
MORE: Click Here!
Why ‘Hand to God’?
I was fortunate to see ‘Hand to God’ in the West End in 2016, multiple times. Perhaps it’s my southern US upbringing, but the play really resonated with me. I found it to be one of the funniest plays I had ever experienced, and also one of the most moving and thought-provoking. At the interval of my first viewing, I was already thinking about how much I wanted to get my hands on the material. I come from the same area of the US that the play is set in. I understand these characters. I know them. And yes, I’ve actually seen these youth ministries… I probably even participated in them during my childhood! While the events may be exaggerated for humour, they are absolutely rooted in a US reality.
This is famously a script with a lot of premise and a lot of edge. What’s at its heart?
‘Hand to God’ uses shock and extreme humour to slip important issues and an emotional punch past your defences. Yes, the sweary puppets are funny. Sure, the ending is gruesome. Yes, the puppet sex is outrageous and you’ll hate yourself for laughing at Margery and Timothy, but you won’t be able to stop yourself from laughing. All the while, the play delivers a deep message about grief, family, hope and healing. After the laughter ends, you’ll still be thinking about the deeper messages and moments from the play.
Have you ever worked with puppets before? And will you again?
I had a limited amount of experience with puppets prior to ‘Hand to God’. I wasn’t a newbie, but hardly an expert. Thankfully, most of the performers who manipulate the puppets were in the same boat. Two had been in productions of Avenue Q previously. Our puppets are dual arm rod puppets, which make them more difficult to manipulate. We allowed for a longer rehearsal schedule to give the actors plenty of time to practice with their puppets. We also built all of the puppets from scratch, as opposed to hiring them in. Creating the puppets ourselves allowed us to tailor each puppet to meet its specific needs. I’ve really enjoyed working with the puppets – they know their lines, always hit their blocking, and never complain! I certainly wouldn’t shy away from another show with puppets, but the show would have to live up to the amazing script that we’ve had with ‘Hand to God’.
What will the EGTG production have that the original production missed?
We hope an audience! In all seriousness, our production has a lot of heart. Everyone involved is passionate about this project. The performers have thrown themselves in with everything they’ve got and have produced a show that is really special.
What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of rehearsals?
I wish I had appreciated how difficult it is to focus when you’re laughing your head off!