An Act of God at the Vaults
In this strange 90-minute satire, God discussed with us her life’s work, her creation, incarnate in the form of award-winning comedian Zoe Lyons. Though the audience laughed throughout the play with due diligence, this critic was not particularly tickled by the performance.
Lyons has a stand-up’s ability to hold an audience in the palm of hand for the length of what is effectively a one-woman show. But at times, there was a slowness or a lack of responsiveness in both her and the other actors. The comic’s skill lies in playing with the spectators – her side glances and stony-cold poker face as the crowd rolled around laughing were deliciously funny. But the relationship between the actors was not so sharp.
Archangel Gabriel (played by the wonderfully mocking macho Tom Bowen) would cross Lyons’ path and she would give him a quick glare before returning to the audience as though it was wrong to leave the script for a few more seconds. The looks provided beautiful moments of comedy, rooted in the moment, and the quick return to the audience seemed premature and un-God-like. There was a general sense in which the characters’ banter could have been milked more, especially in the emotion provoked in God by Archangel Michael (played by the camp Matt Tedford).
Similarly, the Vaults theatre sits underneath a train line, which created a loud thunderous noise every so often and drowned the actors out. Each time it passed, Lyons would carry on talking, disregarding the train, though she could not be heard very well. But the interruption should be acknowledged by the actors as it takes us out of the world of the play and puts us back in the theatre space, which could provide a lot of comedy.
On a more general note, the humour was simply not to this critic’s taste. The writing relies heavily on knowledge of current affairs and references to British culture. The audience loved it because it was a production created for a particular time and a particular place, and it will do well if it is updated as the news change.
This is an entertaining little fringe play which, though somewhat lost on this critic, undoubtedly does well with audiences.
Photos: Geraint Lewis
An Act of God is at the Vaults from 27th November until 12th January 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.