Transferring the setting of the Book of Job to the Long Island mansion of a super-successful businessman, his wife, a prodigal son, and a set of kooky twins, Neil Simon has succeeded in creating a hugely funny play while maintaining the integrity of the lesson. One night a messenger from God enters his life. Our modern Job won’t renounce God, so a fire is sent to wipe him out, factory and home. Everything becomes a test of his faith, including his family. His wife asks him how he can love a God who makes him suffer and he says his prodigal son makes him suffer and he loves him. He believes he’s been chosen to show how much a man can love God. He gets an itch, then neuralgia, then tennis elbow, then… well, worse.
QUESTION: How do you take a story from the Bible, make it come alive, relevant, and uproariously funny as it delivers its statement? Answer: Ask Neil Simon (the world’s funniest playwright) to write the script for you.
If you think the book of Job is not great comedic material, you should see Neil Simon’s devilishly clever adaptation, God’s Favorite.
Simon has moved Joe Benjamin and his family to Long Island of the 1970s, but fire, lightning, and physical torments are still God’s tests. God’s messenger seems to delight in Joe’s troubles and encourages him to end his trial by renouncing God, but Joe, like Job, is steadfast. He is as committed to his faith as Simon is to wringing laughter from Joe’s pain. Need a laugh to start your year? Have a little faith. Come see God’s Favorite.
This cast is the best of the comedic actors from Guntersville’s Whole Backstage: Joe Benjamin is played by Tommy Austin; his wife Rose is Dianne Creel; his eldest alcoholic son is Anthony Wildfong; his (eccentric) twins are John Barrow and April Isom. The household helpers (who are smarter than all the rest involved) are Mady-Valerie Clemons and Morris- Dwight Holland. And last but not least, is God’s very own (TOTALLY unorthodox) messenger – Sidney Lipton, played by Taylor Hyatt. The play is directed by Janet Jordan.
The show dates for this comedy are Sept, 24, 25, and 30, Oct. 1 and 2 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. Call the Whole Backstage office for tickets 256-582-7469.