Last night I watched Hand to God by Robert Askins at The Unicorn Theatre. The Unicorn’s calling card is a play or musical with heart that has been put into a blender with some methamphetamines. Everything is just a little off base. In this case, a puppet has become possessed in a church basement and has taken over a young boy named Jason (Bob Linebarger).
I don’t know where Mr. Bob Linebarger has been, but the boy needs help and to do these things more often. He plays not only himself, but the psychotic puppet Tyrone, to perfection. It is scary good. There is a scene, I can’t ruin it for you but it is worth all the prices of admission from now until the end of time, where Jessica (Mariem Diaz) is playing puppets with Jason. Jessica wrangles her puppet Jolene while Jason wrangles Tyrone. The audience was dying. We couldn’t stop. We couldn’t hardly let the actors finish their scene. It got awkward how long they just stood there. Just go watch that scene. I swear on the graffiti wall of a church basement.
Now I think Pastor Greg (Marc Liby) is just adorable. I think he’s just the cutest since I saw him in Hands on a Hardbody. He can hold his own as the relatively normal force in this cast of crazies. Whenever he is on the docket, watch him. He’s very changeable, so it’s hard to recognize him from show to show. I love him.
Heidi Van (Margery) I have not seen act before. I was an idiot and didn’t see Marilyn/God at the Fishtank. She is an actor, creator, producer and extremely well respected in Kansas City. She’s also fucking AHMAZING. Sweet lord the scene in the office with Matthew J. Lindblom (Timmy) also had the audience rolling. Margery could have been a character written off as a caricature, but Heidi Van is too much of an expert for that. Margery had depth and tilted the show around her. And for someone to steal attention from a demonic god damn puppet is a masterpiece of epic proportions.
Kansas City. Only in Kansas City. My friend turned to me and said “Hey, wasn’t Matthew J. Lindblom in that rap musical about Lupis?” Yes. Only in Kansas City. One month you’re in scrubs rapping about Lupis for KC Fringe, the next month you’re strutting around with some of KC’s finest in the most hilarious show of the season. You’ve made it, kid.
The sets and puppets were incredible. Emily Swenson and Sarah White created something living and changeable that was a masterclass in small space design and quick change. All scene designers need to check out the work they did for the quick changes. It was amazing and innovative.
This one can’t be missed. Don’t be an idiot. Go see it. You’ll never look at puppets the same way again.