The show is in previews July 18-20.
Teenage angst can manifest in myriad ways. Hand to God’s young protagonist, mild-mannered Jason, unleashes his repressed emotions through an offensive puppet named Tyrone. The situation takes an even more troubling turn when it becomes clear that Jason views Tyrone not just as a separate entity, but a demonic being capable of possessing his very soul. Played out on Jason’s hand, this Jekyll and Hyde struggle is exacerbated by the play’s setting, an otherwise sedate church-basement gathering of the Christian Puppet Ministry, a group led by Jason’s anxious mother, overseen by the local pastor, and attended by two other teens. Soon enough, the staid room and its hapless inhabitants are subjected to a weird battle pitting virtue against vice. Beyond its scathing humor, Hand to God works as a poignant character study, especially when performed with the emphatic nuances of Riley O’Toole (reprising the role after an acclaimed production with Utah’s Salt Lake Acting Company), under the assured direction of Jungle Theater’s resident director, Christina Baldwin.