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A Puppet, A Pastor, and a Play come together for “Hand To God” at the Incline

Review by Mary Kate Groh of “Hand to God”: Incline Theatre

If you thought puppets were used only in children’s story-telling, you were wrong. Written by playwright Robert Askins, “Hand To God” is a hilarious, raunchy satire about teen angst, Christianity, and puppets, now playing at the Warsaw Incline Theater. 

This play is definitely not a family-friendly show to bring your kids to since it contains R-Rated adult language and jokes. “Hand to God” opens with a perfectly comedic monologue by “Tyrone” and Jason (Alexander Slade). Slade masters his comedic timing and leaves audience members rolling with laughter. His ability to transform from an awkward youth into the bombastic and raging puppet, Tyrone, is a true talent. Hats off to Slade for pulling off such a challenging performance! 

Jason’s mother, Margery (Karie Gipson) is an anxious widower who runs the puppet ministry class who fends off Paster Greg’s (Brian Anderson) creepy romantic advances. Timothy (Jack Kremer) is a troubled riff-raff who is in the puppet ministry with Jason and the sweet and naive Jessica (Hope Pauly). Kremer plays this hooligan with scene-stealing humor and animation. 

The set design (Brett Bowling) is very convincing for the location of a church basement where much of this play takes place. However, some of the scene changes felt too long, but the catchy Christian music that played between scenes helped carry the show along. At times, I felt the large church basement set design took away from the scenes that didn’t take place in the church basement such as the hilarious car scene with Jason and his mom or the teetertotter scene with Jason and Jessica. 

This play is not for the easily offended as it has over the top dark humor that pokes fun at Christianity. However, if you want to see a demonic puppet deliver a vulgar opening monologue about organized religions, this is the show to see. 

Hand to God plays at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre Jan. 23-Feb. 9 [East Price Hill] .  For tickets, call the theater at 513-241-6550 or go here: http://www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com/Incline/News.aspx