Five Reasons Why We Make A Case for the Existence of God
By: Iris Wiener
May 29, 2022: If you can get past the complex title of this astute play, you will experience a powerful piece of theater that speaks so eloquently to the essence of humanity. The show’s run at the Signature Theatre has already been extended a few times with good reason. Sam D. Hunter’s A Case for the Existence of God takes place in a cubicle in Southern Idaho and follows two men who come together in surprising ways. Here are five reasons why you don’t want to miss it before it closes on June 5th:
1. Hunter knows how to write dialogue that is natural and accessible. His plays, which include The Whale and Lewiston, Clarkston are about the everyman–blue collar workers in small towns (most of which are in Idaho, his home state) and their journeys to find meaningful existences. Case encompasses these qualities exceptionally well, despite the fact that the plight of its characters initially seems average—which is anything but fodder for this 90-minute show. Ryan (Will Brill) wants to buy land that holds meaning for his family. He visits Keith (Kyle Beltran), a loan broker whom he knows from the daycare they both employ. What transpires is an exquisite story of companionship, loss, love and desperation, all accomplished without the actors ever leaving their chairs!
2. David Cromer’s direction is profound. His actors are confined to a small cubicle (see number 5), making every motion, chair roll, and click of a computer mouse poignant and worth the audience’s while. In the show’s most sensitive moments, the actors’ heightened emotions never feel forced, and their interactions with one another take a smooth trip over the pratfalls of their circumstances. The director’s choices are specific and intelligent, even more so in the last ten minutes. (To give more away would ruin the play’s excellent reveals.)
3. Kyle Beltran’s Keith is an intelligent, gay, black broker who lives with the constant fear that the baby he adopted will be taken away by its biological family. Beltran’s performance is exquisitely nuanced and heart-wrenching to witness, especially in moments when he suffers panic attacks. His sensitivity with the material is flawless.
4. Will Brill’s recently divorced Ryan has trouble making ends meet working at a yogurt factory. He perfectly encapsulates the desperation and confusion in trying to make a better life for his toddler daughter. It’s impossible not to empathize with Ryan when he opens up to Keith. “I woke up one morning and suddenly the world was falling apart at my feet.” Together, the actors deliver a master class in performances as their characters realize they have many similarities and form a powerful bond.
5. The play takes places entirely within the small confines of a cubicle, deftly transforming into different locations through small motions and references made by the actors. Arnulfo Maldonado’s set is a brokerage firm at first, later becoming a den and a playground, simply through changing the direction of the actors’ focus to a coffee table that previously blended into the background. The cubicle is a punctuation mark on an expansive white stage, meant to emphasize the small existence and helplessness which the characters inhabit. As with the rest of the production, the choice is astute and powerful.
A Case for the Existence of God
Pershing Square Signature Center
460 W. 42nd St., NYC.
Tue 7:30pm, Wed 2pm & 7:30pm, Thu—Fri 7:30pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. $45—$115. www.signaturetheater.org. May 2—June 5, 2922
Photography: Emilio Madrid