Hand to God premier at the Alex Theatre St Kilda review

review by Kerrie Pacholli © pationpics.com

Gyton Grantley with alter ego sock puppet Tyrone image by Angela Leggas

VASS Productions presents

Hand to God

by Robert Askins

Director Gary Abrahams

Venue: Alex Theatre | 1/135 Fitzroy St, St Kilda VIC 3182

Dates: 25 Feb – 18 March 2018

Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au

Robert Askins’ 2015 off Broadway hit comedy Hand to God premiered at the Alex Theatre in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda on the 24 Feb.

Produced by Vass Productions and directed by Gary Abrahams,  this often hard hitting dark comedy provides a very entertaining window into the deep complexities of disturbed and desperation human psyches.

Grant Piro & Alison Whyte image by Angel Leggas

Set within the seemingly safe parameters of a humble puppet workshop in the basement of a Christian Ministry in Cypress Texas, Askins lays bare menacing undercurrents of mental and emotional turmoil that arise from within this religious overlay; and when unleashed reveal resonating effects of horror, ecstacy and compassion.

Morgana O’Reilly & Gyton Grantley image by Angel Leggas

Gyton Grantely plays Jason, teenage son of Magery Alison Whyte, as well as his alter ego, the diabolical and revenge driven Tyrone, the sock puppet, who appears to self mend and grow teeth throughout the show…

Gyton’s performance as the repressed Jason also giving voice to Tyrone, is powerfully bought to life and reminiscent of Robert De Niro as Max Cady in Cape Fear, except with a hand puppet…go figure?

Just to give you a small insight into this play … In a fit of rage and jealousy Tyrone forces Jason to bite the ear lobe off Timothy (Jake Spears) lover of Magery. Jason is then locked in the cellar until the others can work out the best strategy moving forward.

Jake Speer & Alison Whyte image by Angel Leggas

Although I found all performances compelling, one of the stand out scenes was when Tyrone has lusty, opportunistic, hilarious yet strangely healing sex with hand puppet of Jessica,  Jason’s crush played by Morgana O’Reilly.  The synergy between the actors’ hand puppets was very intense!

Scene design by Jacob Billista, lighting by Amelia Lever-Davidson, costumes by Cloe Greaves and sound design by Ian Moorhead synchronised so well with the performances that we the audience were able to be totally absorbed by the story.

Big congratulations to director Gary Abrahams, Vass Productions and the entire cast and crew. Ending with a standing ovation Hand to God is a great night of entertainment. Don’t bring the kids…

Part of The George Hotel building, The Alex Theatre is a dynamic complex hosting three spacious theatres, a bar, a large piano lounge and an impressive art space. As the result of recent renovations The Alex Theatre fast becoming known as a St Kilda art hub, now has it’s own entrance on Fitzroy Street soon to be open to the general public.

The opening night boasted a full house of Melbourne’s theatre and art enthusiasts and it is believed that the season of Hand to God coupled with  its recent renovations will put the Alex Theatre in Fitzroy Street St Kilda  ‘on the map’ according to long time Food & Beverage Manager of Vass Productions, Philip Claassen.

Head of a (blind) Prophet 60x30x30cms by sculptor Adrian Spurr image by Kerrie Pacholli © pationpics.com

Not to be missed by art lovers over this season of Hand to God is the extraordinary sculpture exhibition on show around the theatre’s plush piano lounge by local St Kilda sculptor / master printmaker Adrian Spurr, installed by GAS (Grid Art Space) on invitation by Vass Productions.