Tempting: Review of Gherkin Global’s Heaven Help Us!

by theatrebloggers

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It’s probably appropriate that Keith Bosler’s new play Heaven Help Us! (2014) has opened in King’s Cross, one of Sydney’s most infamous homes of vice. Heaven Help Us! tells the age old story of good versus evil, with mankind cast as the football in the Devil/God grudge match.

The play opens in Heaven; God has just returned from a brief two thousand year holiday and is shocked to discover that the world has been overrun by the wicked, the sinful and Tony Abbott. Cue the Devil. He’s been having a grand old time leading the weak into sin during God’s leave of absence. After an argument about the moral orientation of humanity, the two agree that the only way to settle the matter is through a bet: a competition over one soul. If the Devil can corrupt this soul, God has to leave for another two thousand years, but if God wins the Devil has to go. Sounds fair. Except the soul they’re after is Luke Allcock, a lawyer. Call it a head start, jibes God. Lucky for Luke, Archangel Michael (or Michaela now, having undergone a sex change since realizing that all men are heinous sinners) has elected to descend upon the Earth in human form to help the misguided man out.

Bosler (who also directed and produced) has put together a rather fun show that never takes itself too seriously. There are laughs to be had from start to finish, from the chilled out Lord All Mighty to the punk rocker Devil. There’s the old contract to be signed, horses to be killed, inheritance to be embezzled and an unlikely love triangle.

Tai Scrivener as Luke and David Woodland as the Devil

Tai Scrivener as Luke and David Woodland as the Devil

As Satan, David Woodland was devilish but a tad overplayed. Decked out in pleather lace ups and a 70s ruffle shirt, Woodland enjoyed his time on stage but failed to boil during furious outbursts. Lyn Pierse brought a relaxed whackiness to the role of God, sporting a rocking Hawaiian shirt in the process. The dichotomy between the two however was a little mismatched.

As the Archangel Michael turned Michaela, Orlena Steele-Prior was wonderfully serene in performance, holding her own amongst the louder more aggressive performers. She managed to find the right levels for this character, and was probably the most nuanced of the ensemble. As the snaky lawyer Luke, Tai Scrivener presented all pick-up lines with a large serving of sleaze. Scrivener was well cast generally, but like Woodland tended to overplay his role. Thankfully he came into his own when he was required to transform into something more genuine.

In supporting roles, Nick Radinoff was solid as Jarrod, the office junior at Luke’s firm, additionally providing some great comic moments in the mix. As Naamah, Satan’s daughter and right hand assistant, Emma Galliano was delicious, though at times pitched incorrectly.

Emma Galliano as Naamah, Tai Scrivener as Luke and Orlena Steele-Prior as Michaela

Emma Galliano as Naamah, Tai Scrivener as Luke and Orlena Steele-Prior as Michaela

The plot does weaken towards the end as Luke tries to get out of his contract with some very flimsy legal maneuvering, and there is a literal deus ex machina thrown in there too. But we should probably take this all in the spirit in which it’s offered. Is this play going to change your perspective on life? No. Does it overplay some plot devices and jokes? Shamelessly. Is it enjoyable? Absolutely.

Heaven Help Us! is playing at the Bordello Theatre at the King’s Cross Hotel until the 29th of March. For more information see: http://www.heavenhelpus.com.au/

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