Artists like to portray God as an old man to show His wisdom and fatherly authority. The new play The God Projekt by Lone Wolf Tribe depicts God as an old man, but this God is a geezer who is past His prime. Rather than a father figure, this version of God is more like a doddering old uncle who doesn’t realize that he’s showing early signs of dementia. Yes, that is most certainly a metaphor for religion on the whole.
The show starts with a tired God (Kevin Augustine) in His workshop making home movies with an outdated video camera that still uses VHS tapes. God is annoyed that humanity is still debating evolution, so He decides to prove that He can create life – just like back in the good old days!
The results aren’t so pretty this time around. The new Adam is a horribly deformed, helpless, miserable creature. Making things worse for Adam is that God is easily distracted and abandons His imperfect creation to a life of misery in Heaven’s basement.
God means well, even if things don’t always turn out as He intends. He’s a far cry from the supremely benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent being that He used to be. Now God needs to consults his chaotic filing system to remember stuff, and it takes an awful lot of work for him to get anything done. Still powerful and wise, but over the course of the show audiences see God declining in ability and ambition.
Again, this fall from former glory is a metaphor for religion itself. Despite good intentions and the power to help with certain problems, God is just overwhelmed by the troubles of the world. His answering machine is backed up with trillions of unanswered prayers, His creations are suffering, and He’s gotten out of touch with what humanity has been up to lately. For all the good that He is capable of doing, it seems like it’s all getting to be too much.
In the first Act, this is usually for laughs as irreverent satire. However the audience is given some hints through the first Act about the sort of troubles that have plagued God for the last couple thousand years. In the second Act the co-playwrights Augustine and Edward Einhorn begin to metaphorically address the foundations of monotheism, and the fate of cultures that suffered at the hands of the early monotheists and the brutal, merciless God of the Old Testament.
It’s a very sharp dissection of religion, particularly regarding the value that it has for modern society. Audiences will be forced to compare the idea of an omnipotent and benevolent god, with the unfairness and savagery of the world. Has humanity been forgotten and left to fend for themselves like the hapless Adam in God’s basement? Is it time to send God off to the Old Folks Home where He won’t be a danger to himself or others?
Augustine’s performance as God is exceptional. He is alternately a befuddled old man, a wrathful tyrant, and a goofy vaudeville comedian. Making it all the more impressive is that The God Projekt is mostly a one-man show. Adam and all of the other characters are depicted with puppets that are controlled by Augustine along with help from Edward Einhorn and Charlie Kanev. Einhorn also provides live voice overs for many unseen characters, including humans that are praying to God.
The God Projekt was part of the La Mamma Puppet Series and, unfortunately, it has closed its run. Information on the production company’s upcoming shows is available at www.lonewolftribe.com, and more about the La Mamma Puppet Series is available at www.lamama.org.