Friday, June 17, 2016
God of Hell: Tough Political Tale from OTR
This 2004 play, written during the darkest days of the Bush II Administration when torture and the Patriot Act were accepted government policy, is being presented by Off the Rails Theatre (OTR) at Community High School through through the next two weekends. It is worth your 72 minutes to absorb its horror, but don't expected to be pleased.
Government by totalitarian regimes is rarely less than threatening to Americans.
"The God of Hell," tightly directed by Patrick Kennerly, is the story of Wisconsin dairy farmers Emma (Maryjean Levin) and Frank (Robert Smith) who receive a visit from Haynes, a longtime friend of Frank's (De'Shawn Riley), who has a secret. His visit is followed shortly by that of a "government man," the menacing Welch (Owen Merritt).
This one develops slowly and there are periods when I was wondering what the hell they were getting at, but in the last 30 minutes, we know that they are getting at us--a nation that has fallen under their spell of right wing control. It's not pretty.
Merritt, who can be annoying with his pitch-precise diction and his shrill delivery upon occasion, nails the dark Welch. At one point, Margie (my gal) said, "I hate him" and I didn't have to ask why. It was because Merritt had become the character.
Veteran Maryjean Levin is solid as the midwest housewife who is bewildered by it all and Robert Smith plays a clueless Frank, caught up in feeding his heifers. De'Shawn Riley, who recently shown in "Rent" with Showtimers, had his moments as Haynes.
Let me caution you that this play is overtly political and the right is shown as an evil fascist regime, hell bent on re-forming America. If that is your politics, you might want to opt for "Little Miss Sunshine" because this one won't do at all.