God proclaims Herself weary of the Ten Commandments — like the way Don McLean feels about “American Pie,” She explains — in “An Act of God,” an irreverent comedy now playing at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. And so She devotes most of the play to talking about some sensible and timely new commandments, including “Thou Shalt Not Tell Others Who to Fornicate,” “Though Shalt Not Kill in My Name” and “Thou Shalt Separate Me and State.”
Written by former “Daily Show With Jon Stewart” writer and producer David Javerbaum, “An Act of God” was presented on Broadway with Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) in the lead role, in 2015, and with Sean Hayes (“Will and Grace”) in 2016. In New Brunswick, the Oscar- and Tony-nominated Kathleen Turner takes over.
“Why a woman?” God asks in the course of the play. “Have you seen the news lately?”
God explains early on that She does not always look like a famous actress, but has chosen to manifest herself, here, in the form of “the legendary star of stage and screen, Kathleen Turner.” The play is basically God’s joke-filled 90-minute monologue on religion, politics, sex and other things, with occasional contributions from a pair of impish winged archangels, Michael (Stephen DeRosa) and Gabriel (Jim Walton). The set, by Timothy R. Mackabee, isn’t much more than a celestial backdrop and a chaise lounge on which Turner occasionally sits.
Turner’s presence turns out to be a mixed blessing. Yes, she has a regal bearing and a deep, powerful voice that fits the part well. And using a woman is a nice touch for a play that wants you to accept a very non-traditional God — one who insists She really did start the human race with Adam and Steve, for instance, and takes selfies, and calls for rim-shots to punctuate her jokes. But for much of the evening, Turner spoke in a halting monotone, and she stumbled over her words a few times.
It seemed, in other words, like she hadn’t quite mastered her lines, though that may improve over the course of the play’s run. She sang well, though, on “I Have Faith in You,” co-written by Javerbaum and Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger.
Some lines have been added to reflect Turner’s presence and the theater’s setting. God, it turns out, is a big “Serial Mom” fan. Rutgers is mocked as “the only state school too ashamed to mention its state.”
You might think another line,“Why is Donald Trump allowed to roam the Earth?,” was added. But it turns out this question was in the original script, all the way back in the summer of 2015. I guess some sentiments are eternal.
“An Act of God” will be at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick through Dec. 23. Visit georgestreetplayhouse.org.