“Hand to God” is about a woman grieving the loss of her husband. That’s what I had to keep telling myself throughout the play.
Behind all of the vulgar acts and the offensive comments, there was a real story. It was about a woman and her son trying to cope with the recent death of their husband and father.
Jason, played by Ryan Mangan, is a teenager struggling to understand his father’s death. He knows his mother needs him to be there for her, but he has a lot of anger built up toward her. He thinks terrible thoughts, but overall tries to be good.
When his mother, Margery, played by Shaughnessy Gower, decides to pour herself into the church and put on a puppet show for the congregation, Jason has to be a part of it.
It’s only after he finishes making his puppet, Tyrone, that things start to go awry.
Tyrone begins to take over Jason’s life. He says everything Jason is thinking, and does not allow him to hide within himself. Of course, this also includes screaming about masturbation and helping Jason get a date with the girl he likes, Jessica.
Honestly, this was the weirdest play I have ever attended.
And I loved it.
I loved that it all took place in a church in the south. I love that even though Pastor Greg, played by Thomas Tifft, started out saying things like “oh heck,” he ended by saying, “I can beat the shit out of you.”
I loved that every single person’s accent was absolutely perfect. Not one time did any of the cast waiver from their accent.
What we really need to talk about, though, is how amazing Mangan was. He basically played two characters, and it was amazing.
I really believed that Tyrone was someone else. He went back and forth between the two mindsets with grace. He truly embodied both characters. And it was hilarious.
Gower was awesome. That’s the best word to describe her performance. Her character was conflicted the entire time. She was trying to be perfect, when in reality, she was struggling more than anyone.
I mean, she probably didn’t have to have sex with a teenage boy, but that goes without saying.
Tyrone got him though, he bit off his ear.
But I’m getting off topic.
The direction behind this play was absolutely insightful. Rich Cowden did a magnificent job. In his note from the director in the program, he noted that he had never seen the play. That’s so cool. This means that everything done on the Castleton stage was right out of Cowden’s mind.
I would love to see what else he has in store.
In the midst of all of the chaos, the whole story is really about grief. It shows that we need to be honest with the ones we love, even when it may hurt them. We need to allow ourselves time to grieve the ones we’ve lost, but we also need to live after their gone.
It was a very vulgar and inappropriate play, but I think it will resonate with a lot of people if they really dig and try to see the message behind it all.
Cowden said it best in his director’s remarks.
“If you can look past the foul language, sexuality, and relentless lampooning of religion, you’ll find a tender story of a mother and son, driven apart by tragedy, struggling to rediscover their love for each other.”