“Thou shall laugh,” sayeth the Lord thy God. OK, not literally, but the Good Theater is hoping to shake off the winter doldrums with “An Act of God.” The sarcastic comedy is shaking things up by redefining the religious ideology of being created in God’s image, but does it issue forth bellyaching laughs? The answer is up to you, the viewer.

The premise of the one-act comedy is simple. Weary of the Ten Commandments, God on high takes corporal form as local actor Laura Houck to deliver 10 new mandates to theatergoers in Portland. Don’t expect a benevolent God, though. Like the Almighty’s name spelled backward, this omnipotent creator has bite.

In his playbill write-up, director Brian P. Allen acknowledges that God and religion can “be a tricky thing to make funny” and for good reason. Those whose sense of humor tends towards the irreverent will revel in the play’s clever wordplay and wit. Others will undoubtedly be offended.

“An Act of God” is written by David Javerbaum, the former head writer for “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. That alone should give an idea of what to expect. It’s a political and societal commentary that is delivered with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

The farce debuted on Broadway in 2015, with Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper on TV’s “Big Bang Theory”) originating the role of God. His classic dry wit and the play’s offbeat humor were a match made in heaven. Houck tackles the flawed Almighty in Good Theater’s Maine premiere, adding her own twist and customary flair as she debunks inconsistencies and challenges accepted religious dogma. It’s a feat of endurance to deliver, and Houck is divine.

The opening scene sets the tongue-in-cheek tone, with God boastfully touting Houck’s virtues. Anyone familiar with her work knows that the hardworking actor is anything but vain. Irony is in overdrive.

It’s hard not to chuckle when Houck’s God deflates the notion of Carl Sagan’s big bang theory by claiming it was an elaborate rouse to send doubters to hell. Then there’s the notion that God created eclipses to illicit “awe and panic,” her two “all-time favorite human emotions.”

The play hits the comic mark with commandments such as the new No. 7: “Thou shalt not tell me what to do,” for which God admonishes people to stop telling her what to damn, bless, forbid and forsake. Others, like No. 3 and No. 9, bring hypocrisy to the forefront with religious-backed notions of faith and killing in the Lord’s name. “I don’t need help,” Houck’s God quips, “I can kill all by myself.”

Through it all, Houck’s God is accompanied by the angel Gabriel, played by the delightfully wry Paul Haley, and the ever-questioning angel Michael, played by Michael Lynch. Many will recognize Lynch from his normal behind-the-scenes role as Good Theater’s box office manager. It’s a pleasure to see him step into the spotlight. The pair nicely accent Houck’s astounding 85-minute monologue.

Craig Robinson has designed a set that is both simplistic and blissful, with heavenly artistic renderings by Nathan Hall and a regal wicker chair in the center.

For those up for a little irreverent humor and parody, “An Act of God” offers up plenty of comical notions to chew on and laugh at, from the pun-intended title, to the Apple wisecracks in the end. Even the most heavy-handed of the concepts, like the reimagined story of creation, are packed with witty turns of phrases for those so inclined to hear. For those disinclined, Allen has these playful words: “The devil made me do it!”

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. Contact her at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ahboyle

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