Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 25, 2016


Chester Theatre Company, Chester, MA 
through July 24, 2016
by Mary Fernandez-Sierra

Theatre goers will be impressed by the masterful acting, stunning production values and uplifting message in Chester Theatre’s production OH GOD by Anot Gov.

Beautifully performed by Maureen Keiller and Will Lyman, OH GOD is a play about transforming despair into hope, and the healing powers of love and compassion. There is plenty of wry humor and comedy to be experienced in this play as well, thanks to the skill of the two actors, and a very clever script.

The plot involves a deity in the throes of depression, who arrives at a therapist’s door one day. It appears that God is traumatized by humanity’s inhumanity, and his own part in the history of the wicked world he helped to create. Their conversation is filled with burning questions about the purpose of life and the survival of mankind, interspersed with humorous, touching and sometimes tragic anecdotes.

Keillor and Lyman both possess superb timing, and are able to blend very profound sentiments and ideas with human candor and frailty. They bring a lightness to what would otherwise be a rather dark story, and hold their audience spellbound, not knowing whether laughter or tears will come next.

The subtle touches added by director Guy Ben-Aharon also help remind the audience of the beauty and delicacy alive in this naughty world, such as God’s carefully wiping his feet before he enters the therapist’s office, and the lovely birdsong that plays softly during several of the scenes.

As is always the case at Chester Theatre, the technical aspects of this play are stunning. Cristina Todesco’s set design, with an overhead flying batten, lush hanging plants and a bookcase attached to nothing give one the impression of being suspended between worlds, and the gold and amber colors in the lighting created by Lara Dubin suggest the burning heat of a summer day.

Special mention must be made, too, of the lovely costumes by Charles Schoonmaker, which also add so much to the production. Keiller looks quite the goddess herself, swathed in scarves and a flowing skirt, and God is dressed in charismatic and comfortable blues. The costumes tell as much about the characters as the actors themselves.

With its compassionate theme, and all the artistry of its performers and creators, OH GOD is an inspiring production, well worth the journey into the hills of Chester.