Hand to God could be a dark, Southern Gothic family drama about death, sex and religion. But every story changes when you add puppets … especially puppets that may well be demonically possessed.
Robert Askins’ black comedy was the hit of the 2015 Broadway season (nominated for five Tony Awards) and the Majestic Repertory Theatre is mounting its Las Vegas premiere. Hand to God is set in a small Texas town, where a young widow tries to get over the death of her husband by leading a church puppet workshop—unfortunately, she’s not paying quite enough attention to how her son, Jason, is coping with it. Jason has a puppet named Tyrone and Tyrone is more likely to burst out with profanity and lechery than “Jesus Loves Me.” The class bully, the girl Jason has a crush on, the ineffectual pastor, all wind up on the receiving end of Tyrone’s dark side—or is it Jason’s dark side?
Hand to God is quick and funny; much of its success is due to the stellar performance of Andrew Young, as Jason/Tyrone, who manages to physically and vocally embody both the nervous, nerdy boy and the vulgar, angry puppet. Even in scenes where the two have fast-paced arguments, he manages to keep both characters completely separate. As the girl next door, Breon Jenay rises to the occasion with her own bodacious puppet, who meets up with Tyrone is a scene that had the audience in hysterics. Far from your usual tale of repression and redemption, Hand to God shows that the truth will set you free—even if that truth sometimes involves a few four-letter words.
Majestic Repertory Theatre presents Hand to God
Thurs—Sat at 8 p.m.; Sundays 5 p.m. through April 15. Located on 1217 S. Main St., tickets $25, majesticrepertory.com