The problem is that Rambo, intentionally or not, lays out several false scents. We learn that Mears’ itinerant preacher father vanished into thin air years ago — will he re-appear? The younger Mears seems a little too willing to dumb down his scholastic appreciation of the Bible to win Dr. Gottschall’s position from an old Baylor University rival — will he become power-mad? Dr. Gottschall himself begins to act a little paranoid and cantankerous — will he become simply mad? Then there’s Hugo Taney (Ian Barford), Dr. Gottschall’s Gomer-Pyle-in-recovery TV technician and aide, who just happened to have been saved from perdition years back by none other than Mears’ father — will Hugo accidentally mike a damning confession from one of the men? Will hesomehow become God’s man in Texas?
None of these possibilities pans out, suggesting a play that doesn’t know what it wants to be, much less how to get there; not helping matters is the getting-there itself, composed of a deadening number of blackouts that shift action between the pulpit and a meeting room. Rambo’s themes (the corporate and entertainment nature of religion) are clearly drawn, but he never takes them anywhere beyond the most obvious statements — a gag reference to the Rock’s bowling alley and dinner theater keeps running long after it ceases being funny. What God’s Man in Texas needs is what all successful religions have at their core — a little mystery.
Director Randall Arney gets his actors to hit all the right notes but never breaks them out of the two confining locales onstage. Loy Arcenas has some fun extending the Geffen’s faux-stone walls into that stage’s identical faux faux-stone walls, and Daniel Ionazzi’s lighting plot cues the men into the appropriate moments of soul-searching. The cast does as much as it can with the material. Guinan turns in a suitably low-key performance as Dr. Mears, a decent and honorable man caught in the middle of an unseemly struggle. Coe, while playing Dr. Gottschall a little too over-the-top at times, is a reliable source of fun in a show whose humor is not intended to be subtle. As the deceptively goofy Hugo, actor Barford almost steals the show, projecting just the right blend of vulnerability and a suggestion of the mystery that, like many other things in this play, is missing from the script.