Theatre Mirror Reviews - "God's Favorite"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2003 by Tony Annicone

"God's Favorite"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Theatre Works final show of their 20th season is Neil Simon's "God's Favorite", a funny play based on the Book of Job. The scene takes place at the Benjamin mansion on the North Shore of Long Island in the mid 1970's, where resides a tycoon, his wife, a drunken, prodigal son, a pair of kookie twins and two servants. Then one night a messenger from God enters, with a big G on his sweatshirt to tell Joe that he is God's favorite and all he needs to do is renounce God. Joe refuses so a fire is sent to his factory and his home. But amid the seeming tragic circumstances, this Neil Simon comedy is very funny. Director Bert Cayer casts all eight roles very well and gives the audience a night of hilarity to help them escape from their real life into this madcap world.

Bert keeps the show in constant motion, moving his cast around the two story light blue set. The colorful costumes are by Sharon Charette with the set design by Bert and Mark Anderson. His hard working stage manager, Maureen Mann and her crew make the set changes with ease and she keeps the actors on their toes throughout the show. The two leading actors are excellent in their roles and give the show a strong foundation to stand on. Richard Concannon gives a tour de force performance in this enormous role of the long suffering father, Joe. He is onstage for 79 out of the 82 page script. He not only delivers a two and a half page monologue brilliantly with all the necessary emotion it needs but he has great chemistry with the whole ensemble. Richard's transition from the rich man to the decrepit creature in the second act is amazing to behold. He really shines in this demanding role. Mark Anderson is a hoot as Sidney Lipton, the Jewish messenger from God. He delivers his one liners with Richard perfectly and gets gales of laughter at almost everyone of them. Mark wears a tan Robert Hall raincoat, tan Hush Puppies and thick lensed glasses to help create the effect of this nebbish creature who appears magically behind the sofa on his entrances. His scenes with Richard crackle with energy and create the joyous atmosphere needed for this show. Bravo to both of them.

The drunken son, David is played by Matt King. He has some funny scenes in the show including one with Richard in the opening act when he falls asleep during the monologue and the one in the next scene where he tells off God who hurls a bolt of lightening at him. He utters, "Holy Shit" which is one of the funniest lines in the show. But the final scene shows his transition to a more serious son after the suffering of his father which shows off another side of his acting ability. Richard's real life wife Mary plays Joe's dumbell wife, Rose who wears a mink coat. She is more interested in her jewelry than in anything else. Mary handles her one liners very well but shows off her acting strength in the scene where she finally stands up to Joe, telling him to renounce God or she is walking out on him. The even dumber twins Ben and Sarah are played by Sean Jo. Arcand and Andrea Grondines. They play their parts well as they repeat each others lines at the start of the show while wearing matching robes and slippers. They walk and talk alike later on while clad in navy blue snowsuits and orange tops underneath. Making their debuts on stage in this show are Stanley Eason and Sharon L. Harmon as Morris and Mady. They do a wonderful job in the servant roles and their standout scenes are at the beginning of the second act when they discuss the house fire and their comical praying scene. So for a fun filled night of a rollicking Neil Simon comedy, be sure to catch "God's Favorite" to help Theatre Works celebrate the close of their 20th season.

"God's Favorite" (2 -17 May)
THEATRE WORKS
78 Earle Street, WOONSOCKET, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401)766-1898

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