My Drama Desk colleague, critic Peter Filichia, has written a play that ruminates acerbically about religion. His “God Shows Up” constructs a step-by-step exposé of religious commercialization built into a typical evangelist televised program in which people of all religions are welcome and, of course, urged to give money. As the play gets more intense and progressively funnier, the ideas are hammered home to excess, and the piece could stand trimming.
There is plenty to enjoy in what occurs. The television show is run by Christopher Sutton as the preacher Thomas Isaac Rehan, who is charmingly smarmy as he dispenses with clichés that he thinks are oh-so clever. Maggie Bofill amusingly plays Roberta, his bumbling and hapless looking studio assistant.
Rehan announces that this is a very special occasion as God is to be a guest on his program. Sure enough, Lou Liberatore as a fast-talking, all-knowing God turns up for what Rehan expects to be a congenial session. Little does Rehan know.
Step by step all hell breaks loose as God begins to expose and rant against the exploitation of religion and the foolishness of believers. Rehan is totally decimated by the avalanche of God’s complaints, as delineated in the creative diatribes that the author has concocted.
Audiences are in for a surprise supplied by the versatile Bofill, a unique ploy central to Filichia’s viewpoint on heavenly control and retribution.
It is obvious that the playwright has thought deeply about religion and evangelist preachers, and how so much of the public has been suckered into massive contributions in the name of worshipping to achieve salvation. Filichia has a good sense of comedy and how to build humor into the lacerating dialogue illuminating the hypocrisy.
With more honing the play could well move into a larger off-Broadway venue providing further exposure of Filichia’s basically amusing and often witty take on exploitation in the name of God. At the Playroom Theater, 151 West 46th Street. Phone: 212-967-8278.