The newest star of Broadway defies all physical expectations of a leading man. He is neither tall nor muscular, and his vocal talents seem limited. (To be fair, we only hear him singing “Jesus Loves Me.”) And he could use a haircut, or at least some product.
I refer to Tyrone, the villainous sock puppet in Hand to God, Robert Askin’s new play on Broadway. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, the story follows a small church community rocked by the evil Tyrone, as he is given life by the timid Jason, brilliantly portrayed by Steven Boyer who somewhat miraculously moves between the two characters without a pause or, seemingly, even a breath.
Jason and his mother Margery (Geneva Carr, wonderful) are suffering from grief as his father recently died. And Margery is struggling to keep the advances of Pastor Greg (Marc Kudisch) at bay, along with the attentions of the young Timothy (Michael Oberholtzer), who participates in the church puppet group she runs. And Jason has a crush on the timid Jessica (wonderfully brought to life by Sarah Steele) but Tyrone seems determined to wreak havoc on everyone around him.
The chaos escalates to the point where Pastor Greg thinks Tyrone is possessed by the devil and an exorcism is discussed before a chaotic and violent conclusion is arrived at and some extremely difficult lessons are learned.
But the real question here, brilliantly asked by Askin’s play, is whether it’s human suffering or supernatural and spiritual that hurts the most. Is it Satan that is motivating Tyrone, or is it Jason’s anguish at the loss of his father? And who can do more harm – people found in everyday life or the almighty?