God speaks. You listen.

The Lord God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, lays it all on the line in the celestial comedy "An Act of God." Listen up, or be left behind.

Let it be known that the Lord God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, Incorporeal Presence Sometimes Taking on the Form of Flesh, is now appearing several nights a week and Sunday afternoons in Portland, Oregon, at Triangle Productions, whose home on Northeast Sandy Boulevard is fortuitously known as The Sanctuary.

His Awesome Holiness has taken the form of a local actor of some repute named Norman Wilson, and is playing Himself in a little comedy called An Act of God, which is purportedly written by a television funnyman named David Javerbaum, multiple winner of and nominee for Emmy Awards for his work as a writer and/or producer for Jon Stewart and David Letterman and others, but if you want to know The Truth the monologue seems to be coming Straight From the Mouth Of, if you know what I mean. No burning bushes or any of that old-style cosmic show-biz stuff. Just some jokey insider talk-show chat and the occasional reverberating roar when something gets under His temporal skin.

God on His couch, spreading the word. Triangle Productions photo

A few things are on The Divine One’s Mind, perhaps most pressingly the rule of law as interpreted by the overly adoring and literalist masses. “Yea, I have grown weary of the Ten Commandments,” He pronounces. “In the same way Don McLean has become weary of American Pie.” A hit like that defines and typecasts you: You can’t get away from it. G-d lets the audience in on a few puckish stretchings of the truth in the telling of original stories (the actual quote, it turns out, was “And Adam and Steve were naked and knew no shame”) and splits a Celestial Gut that anyone still takes that two-by-two thing seriously: He means, how many animals are there, and how much room was on that ark? And He announces a new Big Ten, keeping a couple of the old ones but in the main tossing the original list into the Heavenly trash bin. Among the newbies: Thou shalt not tell others when to fornicate, Thou shalt not kill in My name, Thou shalt separate Me and state. All very sensible, it seems, but who knows if these ones might take hold, or if the old ones might not hang around embarrassingly like Confederate Hero statues in Southern town squares, ruthlessly and rigorously defended by unbending believers in the Old Faith?

His High Holiness, as it turns out, is no enemy of science, and a certain amount of Cosmic Calculation works into His act. Those ten new commandments and commentary on the ten old ones fly by in a mere ninety minutes without intermission, along with a fair amount of auxiliary information, giving the Good Lord, to be liberal about it, roughly four and half minutes per commandment to have His say – a fair pickup in speed and efficiency from His original six days’ labor on Creation. He dates the beginning of this little Universe plaything of His from (if my fallible mortal ears heard right) November 19, 4004 B.C. – a little off from Bishop Ussher’s calculation of nightfall on October 2 of that same year, but then again, even the good bishop was a mere mortal, and therefore susceptible to human error. Hold firm, Young Earth Creationists! The truth will out.

Yorkston, Wilson (taking Selfie) and Sharinghousen. Triangle Productions photo

For this Special Limited Engagement the Good Lord has several – let’s not call them minions, but rather Heavenly helpmeets in the presentation of His act, most notably his two archangels, Michael (Leah Yorkston) and Gabriel (James Sharinghousen). Gabe’s not so much a toady as a loyal underling and sidekick who’s in on the joke. Mike takes things a bit more seriously, mingling among the crowd and tossing out challenges to be answered: What about the Big Issues, Big Guy? Stuff like evil, and natural disasters, and when bad stuff happens to good people? For her earnest cheek she is alternately laughed at and soundly scolded, and sometimes you wonder whether she shouldn’t be running for her life (as His Supreme Mightiness abashedly notes, “I have, um, wrath management issues”). Donald Horn is director, set designer, sound designer, producer and general guy who gets things done; Jason Coffey is stage manager and light & sound operator; Isabella Guetter is “special costumer”; Kristi Foster is credited with the music; Jane Holmes for providing God’s couch, which of course is long and white and presumably comfy; and the legendary Walter Cole/Darcelle for providing God’s suitably flowing outer garment, a drag queens’ treasure of a thing. Even the provider of fog/LED machines, Von Goolo LLC (yes, the Creator does some of it with smoke, if not necessarily mirrors) is given thanks.

Truth be told, this Lord of the Proscenium Arch is an all too knowing, universe-weary Master of Creation, with a resigned patience given to occasional outbursts of Almighty Wrath, and a hint of homicidal mischief, like a Loki’s or Coyote’s, in that genial let-us-gather-together laugh. There are deep mysteries in the universe, and profound imponderables in the study of the spirit; questions that have confounded deep thinkers since the forming of the speaking ape. An Act of God does not delve into the mysteries. It just notes them impishly in passing. Leave such matters for Reinhold Niebuhr and other theologians. This God’s in it for the punch lines, which land, softly and mostly agreeably, to a little effect. Next month, maybe, on to Las Vegas. After all, He created the lights.

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An Act of God continues through December 16 at Triangle Productions, in The Sanctuary. Ticket and schedule information here.

 

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