An Act of God

Centrepoint, Palmerston North

25/02/2023 - 30/03/2023

Production Details

Written by David Javerbaum
Directed by Benjamin Henson

Centrepoint Theatre



If You See One God This Year… Make It Him…

The Almighty has arrived to set the record straight… and he’s not holding back! In this sinfully and critically acclaimed play, God, assisted by his devoted angels, will answer some of the deepest questions that have plagued mankind since Creation.

This hilariously flamboyant, highly irreverent, and surprising meaningful comedy written by the Emmy award-winning head writer of The Daily Show with John Stewart, delivers a new meaning to the phrase “divine intervention”.

*Please note flashing lights are used in this production.

Centrepoint Theatre, Palmerson North
25 February – 18 March 2023
Adult  $50; Early Bird $45
Concession*  $41; Early Bird $39
Tertiary Student  $29
Secondary Student  $27
Dinner + Show  $95
*Seniors and Community Services Cardholders. Valid I.D. is required.

Please be aware that tickets are non-refundable. Any tickets for exchange must be returned to Centrepoint Theatre at least two days prior to the performance date. Under no circumstances will tickets be exchanged after the performance date.

Adam Burrell as God
Leona Revell as Gabriel
Finn Davidson as Michael

Production Manager Marshall Rankin
Lighting Designer Talya Pilcher
Set Construction  Harvey Taylor
Set Designer  Henrique Beirao
Stage Manager/Technical Operator  Belle Harrison
Sound Design  Belle Harrison

Comedy , Theatre ,

75 mins approx

Cribbed glibness on a wing and a prayer – more B-musing than A-musing

Review by Richard Mays 26th Feb 2023

Lent on the Christian calendar counts down the 40 days before Easter week. Beginning on Ash Wednesday (February 22, 2023), traditionally this is a time of spiritual preparation, fasting and giving up self-indulgences in acknowledgement of Christ’s 40 days temptation in the wilderness.

This Lenten season, rather than asking that you give up something, Centrepoint Theatre is hoping you’ll instead ‘give it up’ for the Aotearoa/New Zealand premiere of David Javerbaum’s 2015 Broadway play An Act of God.

A multi-Emmy Award winning writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Javerbaum has adapted the play from his own book The Last Testament: A Memoir By God which in turn was based on his Twitter reflections @TheTweetOfGod.

There, as here onstage, Javerbaum takes the Bible verse “God will not be mocked” as challenge accepted!

Directed by Benjamin Kilby-Henson in front of two free-standing faux crystal backdrops, an anthropomorphised and campy Almighty manifests upon a moveable crystalline chaise longue in the person of Adam Burrell.

Dressed in John Travolta disco white, the universe’s prime prestidigitator accompanied by his two angelic assistants Gabriel and Michael, gives the inside spin on ‘Brand God’, beginning with creation and the story of Adam and Steve…

To the chosen in the audience, the God with booming flashing thunderbolt-and-lightning “wrath management issues” also reveals and explains a new set of the 10 Commandments.

Just why an all-powerful spiritual entity who has consulted with Steve Jobs on the roll-out of Universe 2.0 uses an old-school overhead projector for the presentation, can only be down to his ‘mysterious ways’.

Disappointingly, Javerbaum’s play adds little to an already well-worked premise, with a shallow schtick and glib humour that strikes me as forced and, despite the Trump jokes, quite dated.

However, there are those in the audience who clearly get a kick out of its sacrilegious and blasphemic tone.

Performance-wise, it’s not that Burrell lacks in characterisation, confidence or chutzpah, but due apparently to “scheduling issues”, has only been on deck in the intense and hyper-wordy role for less than two weeks, so carries a discreet crib script.

The show must go on apparently, but as the 80-minute play-through production progresses, the crib’s presence increasingly impedes its flow. Expect, as the Almighty’s memory improves, that the script will soon be consigned to the fire. 

In support, Leona Revell as Gabriel the compliant angel, and Finn Davidson as Michael the increasingly irascible, work their expressive little cartoony wings off.

Michael is twice blasted by his boss for relaying too many uncomfortable ‘asking for a friend’ style questions, purportedly from the audience –
M: Why did you allow the Holocaust?
G (a Liza Minnelli fan): Because without the Holocaust, there’d be no Cabaret. Ka-boom-cha-tse!

Can’t wait to see Javerbaum’s take on Allah.

It does take me a while though to work out why Gabriel and Michael are wearing white ‘Haydn’ emblazoned overalls. It’s not that Haydn wrote, say ‘The Hallelujah Chorus’ – Doh! That was Handel. It was of course Haydn who wrote ‘The Creation’ (‘Die Schöpfung’).

Well done on an obscure hidden-in-plain-sight thematic costume-conveyed clue to the outcome, as the heavenly trio leaves the stage for the new improved Universe 2.0, leaving a bemused audience to face the apocalypse on their own.  In short, An Act of God offers cribbed glibness on a wing and a prayer, and is more B-musing than A-musing.


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