THEATRE REVIEW: Hand To God starring Janie Dee

WORTH A LOOK?: ***

WHERE: Vaudeville Theatre

WHEN: 19/2, runs to 11/6

Puppet sex? Hand To God’s generated mixed reviews and for us the way it is being sold as a cross between Avenue Q and Book Of Mormon didn’t quite ring true.

Robert Askins’ story is of a troubled teen with mental health issues and an over fondness for a sock puppet which expresses ever darker desires. It’s set in modern day America and the most impressive performance here is by Harry Melling who plays ambivalent teen and devilish puppet simultaneously.

He’s surrounded by a strong cast which will be familiar to TV viewers, his mother (two-time Olivier winner Janie Dee, from London’s Burning), vicar (Neil Pearson, Drop The Dead Donkey) and his would-be girlfriend (Jemima Rooper, As If).

A disappointment was that, other than Melling, this fine cast’s characters never felt especially fully explored.

At 100 minutes, Hand To God felt slight but brevity’s an increasingly rare commodity in the theatre. This week we also saw Waste at the National which wasn’t of sufficient quality to merit a review here and is nearing three hours with an interval.

The first act is only occasionally funny but things get considerably darker and, depending on your sense of humour, funnier in the second. We wouldn’t rush to see it again but it was sufficiently bleak and twisted to make for a fun, comic and different night out.

Given the empty seats at the theatre on a Friday night and our 3* rating, we’d be surprised if Hand To God makes it to the end of its planned run. So, don’t delay, if you’re planning a visit.

  • Tickets here. Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham.

 

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