This past weekend I ventured into the lower east side to see THE GOD PROJEKT, the opening selection to LaMama's 2016 season. This is actually the second time the production has appeared her in NY, the last being in 2013 at the same theatre (though the smaller space before). I've sat with it purposefully for a couple days, realizing that my review does need to indeed come out before the run of the show ends (this coming Sunday). But I needed to sit with it, to unpack it. And there's a lot to unpack. The story, co-created and written by Einhorn and Kevin Augustine, finds a decades old God (played sublimely by Augustine) sitting alone in heaven, or rather in a broken down, cluttered up office space. Hidden behind a beautifully crafted old age mask, he spends his time alone for the most part, his company only being a stuffed monkey (played by Monkey) and his assistant (played by Einhorn who speaks into an off stage mic and patches through messages and voicemails of unanswered prayers). It's a broken, shattered version of God, one that is in love with his own legacy and has a hard time coordinating what prayer to reach out to next. He's annoyed one minute with lame prayer requests and then in pieces at his own jokes (the best of which is revealed at the beginning of Act II where he hosts a "Catskills-like" comedy show).
He tends to get lost in thought, thinking of his once wife and how he wasn't always alone. He longs to create something again, something new. And so he does: he creates a new "Adam" in the form of a half-finished Puppet of a Man. But he doesn't finish it and chucks it into the basement with the rest of his half-finished creations. The Adam puppetry (all designed by Augustine) is fascinating and so is the sad story that follows him. He's now broken, unable to speak, unable to understand why he's only half finished. Unable to know why his master has forsaken him. It's heartbreaking and powerful. As for God, he constantly films himself, gazing into the camera as if it's his oldest friend. He cradles a giant arm of a woman that's been frozen in a freezer, caressing her gently and realizing he isn't quite what he used to be.
The God Projekt moves at a very slow, deliberate pace and watching it takes more than a little patience. But it rewards those who have it with a starteling story and visual splender. Augustine's performance as God is captivating and powerful. His physicality and storytelling is incredible and the power duo of Einhorn and Ausustine direct the tale and frames the work with the careful grace of two master storytellers. This isn't a play to see and forget about. This is a play to sit with, to put on a shelf and to pick it back up the next day, revisiting the bitter and brutal points of the show. Unable to find the exact way to put God into words? Well, God seems to have that issue too and he's literally talking about himself. For a thoughtful, exillerating meditation on faith, theology, and the art of being able to move on from the past, head to LaMama between now and Sunday. You may not know exactly what you're seeing at the time, but I promise you it'll stay with you long after you journey home.
Conceived by Kevin Augustine Co-written and Co-directed by Kevin Augustine and Edward Einhorn Starring Kevin Augustine, Edward Einhorn, Emily Marsh, and Joseph Garner. Playing now through Sunday Oct 16th at: LaMama Experimental Theatre - Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4th Street). For tickets: http://untitledtheater.com/
MATEO MORENO is an actor and a playwright. His plays Happily After Tonight, Within Our Walls, Bohemian Valentine and Paper Airplanes have all been produced in NY and beyond. He is currently workshopping his new play Fairground Attraction as part of Athena Theatre's 2016 Playwrighting Group "Athena Writes." He lives in Brooklyn, New York.