Local boy makes God

Heavenly hilarity and a devilishly good time

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"An Act of God," now playing at the DCPA through April, takes on religion with a hilarious twist: the new-and-improved Ten Commandments.
Courtesy of DCPA/John Moore

The old school newspaper headline, “Local boy makes good,” seems to have fallen out of fashion of late. Should we blame the 24-hour news cycle with its insatiable craving for doom and gloom fearmongering? Have all the local boys moved away or turned exclusively to lives of crime?

That may be the case in far flung locales like Piscataway, New Jersey, and Valdosta, Georgia, but in Denver some local boys aren’t just making good; they’re making God. And they’re making him a hoot.

Gifted director Geoffrey Kent, ever-reliable and enjoyable thespians Steven Cole Hughes and Erik Sandvold, and understudy-turned-star Steven J. Burge are sending audiences into paroxysms of laughter with their exultantly funny An Act of God,  playing Denver Center through April 8. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, Bible thumpers in general and other sense-of-humor-lacking sorts beware. This is not your father’s Father. An Act of God is wonderfully irreverent and sinfully sarcastic. Before it’s over, both God and Man have taken it on the chin and a few other places.

In order to set the record straight about some messianic misconceptions, God has popped down to the material realm and taken possession of Burge’s body to present the new and improved Ten Commandments. The updated Ten Commandments 2.0 were motivated by God’s own sloth. As he puts it, “I was God, but I wasn’t really ‘Godding.’”

Speaking of sloth, An Act of God is presented in the Denver Center’s Garner Galleria Theatre. Between the show’s wicked sense of humor and the Garner’s cabaret environment, theatergoers can easily indulge in all seven of the deadly sins while this one-act wonder unfolds. As they slothfully sit around, eating and drinking to gluttonous excess, they can greedily devour one-liner after one-liner winging from the stage, envy the talent on display, lust for one of the actors (or maybe that pretty little thing at the next table), take pride in their outstanding taste in theater and, when the proverbial curtain falls, be full of wrath that An Act of God isn’t longer.

Burge’s God is aided in his recitation of the new celestial do’s and don’ts by archangels Gabriel (Sandvold) and Michael (Hughes). Interspersed among the new Commandments — and some oldies with novel spins like, “Thou shalt not kill in My name. I can do it all by Myself.” — are some excellent socioreligious observations and whip smart wordplay.

The Bible, it turns out, is 100 percent accurate… especially when thrown at close range. And Eve was apparently created from one of Adam’s non-load-bearing ribs. Which, depending on your experience, may explain a few things.

The plethora of pithy piffle and profundities comes as no surprise given that An Act of God is the brainchild of David Javerbaum and had its genesis, I swear to dog, as a series of tweets. Javerbaum has won Emmys, Peabodys, a Grammy, probably Most Likely to Succeed at his alma mater Temple Beth-El Hebrew School, and who knows how many other awards as a TV writer and producer as well as an author. He was one of John Stewart’s inner circle at The Daily Show for years.

Javerbaum is, hand to God, one funny mensch, a title that applies equally to Burge, Kent, Hughes and Sandvold. The wholly unholy combination of Javerbaum’s dialogue, Kent’s sure directorial hand, Hughes’ comic range, Sandvold’s dry wit and Burge’s infectious energy and wry delivery makes An Act of God a joy… to the world. And, for a limited time, the Front Range in particular.

On the Bill: An Act of God. Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 1400 Curtis St., Denver, 720-865-4239, denvercenter.org. Through April 8. Tickets $47 and up.