[April Wilson | TV Director]
I thought I was prepared for puppet on puppet sex… I was wrong.
Before I start talking about the much documented puppet sex in Hand of God, I have to begin by saying that this play is hilarious. Seriously, stop what you are doing and go see it as soon as possible. You will not be disappointed.
Hand to God is the story of a mother, who after the death of her husband, decides to run a “puppet club” as part of her local church. She enlists her son, the local bad boy, and a girl who just wants to help. Unsurprisingly, things don’t exactly go to plan and soon enough one hand puppet (Tyrone) goes completely out of control! And this is where the true comedy begins…
Harry Melling (famous for playing Dudley in the Harry Potter series) stuns in the play, managing to convey not only the conflicted but timid Jason, but also the furious and hilarious creature of pure rage that is Tyrone. Through Melling, the puppet Tyrone truly comes alive. I seriously had to stop myself several times as I started to believe Tyrone had actually come to life! Imagine the hand-eye coordination it takes to say lines as Tyrone and then respond as Jason, while still controlling Tyrone; that takes some serious skill.
As an audience member, you really do need to suspend your disbelief at times otherwise the play loses a lot of the magic. To truly be immersed you need to be laughing along with Tyrone instead of laughing at him.
The rest of the cast were as captivating as Melling with Jessica (Jemima Rooper) and Jason’s scenes being particular highlights for their fragile sweetness. Then we have the sex scene or “puppet practice” as it was dubbed; how the actors were able to keep a straight face during this scene I will never know! Trust me, you won’t feel conned when you go in expecting puppet sex, as you get every position you can possibly imagine. I’m talking missionary, doggy style, the lot!
Although the comedy is centre stage of the production, it is the play’s emotional core that gives it the ability to be performed again and again. The simple message is that you can blame all your misdeeds on the devil. Yes, Tyrone could be the devil. Yes, he could be a possessed puppet. But it doesn’t matter. The point is not whether Tyrone is some sort of puppet version of Reagan, it’s the pain that Tyrone represents in Jason. Tyrone is pure rage; rage that Jason has not allowed himself to project. Tyrone allows him to do this, with absolutely hilarious results! So if you want a puppet exorcist story with an emotional heart and constant sexual innuendos, then Hand To God is the play for you!
You can read my interview with Harry and Jemima here.