Directed by Joe Mantello, Act of God is one of those comedies that will be disappointing if you go in expecting to split your sides laughing but is perfectly acceptable if you’re content to be reasonably entertained.
The play is written by David Javerbaum, whose résumé includes a stint with The Daily Show, and features Sean Hayes, widely known for his role as the impish Jack McFarland on the long-running TV sitcom Will and Grace. Hayes aptly applies his charm as the physical embodiment of God, who’s arrived in Southern California to apprise us of changes he’s made in the Ten Commandments. Some of the rules, such as “Thou shalt have no other God before Me” remain the same. But others, like “Thou shalt not tell others whom to fornicate,” are clearly updates.
The piece plays most of its funniest riffs earlier on, as in the recounting of the creation of Adam’s helpmate, Steve (not Eve), who is described as “ripped, and cut, and hung like unto a fig tree before the harvest; yea, and a power bottom.“
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By the fifth or sixth new commandment, though, you’re wishing “God” would pick up the pace. Even so, Hayes continues to display considerable comic chops. If your attention wanders now and then, it’s not because of his delivery.
As the Almighty, Hayes is abetted by David Josefsberg as the archangel Michael, who naively challenges God’s will (and pays the price, as one of his wings abruptly falls off), and James Gleason, extremely funny and on point as Gabriel, a scripture-intoning figure who calls to mind an archetypally uptight Christian pastor.
Scott Pask’s scenic design — complemented by designer Hugh Vanstone’s lighting, with its abundance of purple and blue — is comic, colorful and pleasing to the eye.
Ahmanson Theatre, 135 Grand Ave., downtown; through March 13. (213) 972-4400, centertheatregroup.org/tickets.