Tweetingit: 3* Think the Ten Commandments could use a re-boot? Comedian Zoe Lyons imagines God in stand-up mode; predictable but occasionally very funny.
An Act of God presents something of a moral conundrum, re-treading themes that have kept satirists busy for generations. It belongs to the same family of writing that produced the Life of Brian and Book of Mormon. However, where Brian and Mormon concentrate broadly on the concept of faith; this play goes back one stage further; what if God popped down and re-drafted the Ten Commandments for 21st Century consumption. In fact, what if God was a lesbian comedian in silk pyjamas; or in Zoe Lyons’ words ‘Sharon Osbourne’s dykey niece?’. An interesting concept without doubt; more importantly how would God judge the human race and its achievements? With the assistance of Archangels Michael (Matt Tedford) and Gabriel (Tom Bowen); Zoe re-writes the Ten Commandments with a critical assessment of life’s biggest questions.
Essentially, we see God in stand-up mode with a source of material that most comedians could only dream about. Zoe methodically ticks off each commandment offering a detailed progress report. Think of God as Head Teacher delivering a pupil assessment. Archangel Gabriel holds an I-Pad tablet (geddit?!) and scribbles notes on the wall; meanwhile Archangel Michael mingles with the audience seeking questions they’ve always wanted to ask God. It’s a reasonably coherent piece that holds together with some genuinely funny throwaway lines. The play has already been a hit on Broadway, and writer David Javerbaum has written bespoke material for a British audience. So I was baffled by the inclusion of some poorly judged gags. A line about the holocaust was a huge blunder; there is potential for a reactive piece drawing on current events but opting for the jugular is not a good look.
Zoe Lyons is an excellent performer who honed her craft in the bear pit of stand-up comedy, and she makes this production palatable and broadly entertaining. With all due respect to the Archangels this is basically a one woman show; Zoe carries the script through a 90 minute routine and only falters on lines greeted with a deep groan. Even she struggled to retort the audience reaction. Of course, funny is funny and comedy is all about pushing boundaries. But even in comedy there are some places you shouldn’t go.
Writer: David Javerbaum
Director: Benji Sperring
Producer: James Seabright
Box Office: 0844 815 7141
Booking Until: 12 January 2020