A Case for the Existence of God @ Seymour Centre

Sometimes a play is so intense it will trigger a medical episode. It happened during the opening night of Relativity at Riverside Parramatta and it happened during last night’s premiere of A Case for the Existence of God at Seymour Centre in Sydney. The theatre was cleared while the medical team attended to an audience member who had fainted during the performance. Thankfully, she was okay and the performance resumed afterwards.

Written by acclaimed US playwright Samuel D. Hunter and presented by Outhouse Theatre Company, A Case for the Existence of God is more about the brotherhood of man than any theological revelation. It dives into the world of Ryan and Keith, two men from completely different backgrounds, but with a lot in common (“We share a sadness” observes Ryan). Keith is a mortgage broker, a black, queer single dad to a foster child, and a classical music aficionado. Ryan is his client, desperate to get a loan despite his patchy credit history, and on the cusp of getting a divorce. He is the product of two meth-heads where “mental illness runs in the family”. Like Keith, he is also the proud father of a young daughter.

Through dialogue and exploration, the men form a bond over their fears and struggles to hold onto the things they want most. The dialogue is prosaic and the performances are naturalistic, giving space and silence to digest the subtext. 

Lighting design by Veronique Benett gives intimacy to the opening scene in Keith’s office, and with an electrical buzz becomes the cue for scene changes. From a clinical examination of a person in terms of numbers (‘what assets do you have / how much do you make’) to the warm glow of stars in the night sky, the play reveals the soul struggling beneath the stress of survival (‘being an adult is sticking by the rules / hoping you make enough until you die’).

Director Craig Baldwin is gifted with two excellent actors (Anthony Gooley as Ryan, Elijah Williams as Keith) who bring realism and humour to the text (who would have thought the word ‘harrowing’ could draw so much audience laughter?)

Together, they have created a play that speaks to aspirations, anxieties and economic survival in humanistic terms, reminding us that regardless of how perfectly packaged or privileged we are in this world, sometimes things just don’t work out. And that’s okay.

A Case for the Existence of God is playing at Seymour Centre til 4 May. For tickets and showtimes, go to https://www.seymourcentre.com/event/a-case-for-the-existence-of-god/

Hero image: Marnya Rothe
Production images: Philip Erbacher

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