In ‘Man of God,” the titular character (identified simply as “The Pastor”) does not appear until the final minutes of the play. But until then he is well represented by the creepy camera he has hidden in the bathroom to spy on the four teenage girls he is chaperoning on a Mission trip to Thailand, presumably inspired by the desire to stand against sex tourism. It is an audaciously comic set up for a very funny play that packs a helluva serious punch.
The four teenage girls are well-rounded stereotypes (think of “The Breakfast Club”). There’s the total innocent, the woman-of-the-world rebel, the seriously devout Christian, and the girl-with-a-secret.
Upon discovering the incriminating camera, and coming to grips with its implications, each of the girls responds in her own way, as the playwright explores the varying effects of the invading male gaze on different women in different circumstances.
The comedy arises as each girl, in a series of hallucinatory fantasies, imagines what she would like to do about it. The fantasies involve kung fu fighting and all sorts of additional intrigue, and are played for laughs. The content is serious, but the journey is hilarious. Except, as more and more of the girls’ personal secrets come to light, the laughs grow increasingly hollow.
Until the devestating denoument when the pastor arrives in person.
To avoid a spoiler, I’m not going to reveal how it works out. I’ll just say that the play ends in a prolonged, painful and thought provoking silence, that is likely to leave the audience angry and unsatisfied and seriously shaken up by the implications. It’s brilliant.
No spoilers, but definitely a tease: See it for yourself. It’s really good.
“Man of God” continues at Shotgun Players through October 2, 2022. For further information click here.
Rating: **** (For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here.)
“Man of God” by Anna Ouyang Moench. Produced by Shotgun Players. Director: Michelle Talgarow. Costumes: Madeline Berger. Sound: Landa Palmer. Lighting: Gabe Rodriguez. Props: Starr Jiang. Set: Randy Wong-Westbrooke. Fight Choreographer: Raisa Donato.
Joyce Domanico: Jen. Lauren Andrei Garcia: Mimi. Chuck Lacson: Pastor. Alexandra Lee: Samantha. Sharon Shao: Kyung Hwa.