This ICHF was written by TheBigDeepCheatsy, who you can find at https://theflamingomancer.tumblr.com/ and https://twitter.com/flamingomancer. I may have made a few touch ups and notes here and there, but the bulk of this entry is their work!
Special Thanks to TitleKnown for the major help on this article, without him, this article would have been pretty lackluster
I remember walking into “Hand to God”, expecting something along the lines of a cross between “Doctor Faustus” and “Avenue Q”; wacky and lewd acts, a bargain with a demonic puppet, social commentary, but all with a fairly happy ending… Well, I got part of it right. Instead, the play was much more along the lines of a psychological horror that manages to present the horrible consequences of improperly dealing with bottling up and mishandling honesty in a clownish yet deeply disturbing fashion thanks to stars of this article; the demonic duo, Jason and Tyrone.
Tyrone establishes his role as the embodiment of brutal honesty with a sacrilegious sermon that bluntly bashes on human evolution, civilization, and the foundations of morality by pinning blame on the devil. From that point on, you know that this puppet has no interest in rainbow connections or the color green. Jason, on the other hand (Pun unintended…), is a timid, teenage, mama’s boy. You can probably guess where this is going…
Throughout the play, we see how he struggles with getting his true feelings out, whether he is trying to win the heart of his love interest, Jessica, with a skit he stole from “Who’s on First”, dealing with constant harassment from Timothy the bully, handling the puppet show for his pastor, and conveying what he really thinks towards his mother. Enter Tyrone, who starts shaking it up through crass comments towards Jessica, which are initially shut up by Jason ripping him in half in a desperate attempt to keep people from knowing what he really thinks. However, as the play proceeds, Tyrone comes back sewn back together, looking and acting worse than before; resorting to caustic call-outs and even physical violence to get Jason’s feelings out and forcibly stripping away anything his peers may be hiding, thus reflecting how honest thoughts you have can get uglier and crueler if left to bottle up over time; whether that involves reminding Jason about his father’s death, biting off Timothy’s ear in vengeance, mocking the pastor’s not-so secret desire for Jason’s mother, or even calling her out for committing statutory rape with Timothy.
The honesty delivered by Tyrone from inside Jason manages to further affect the other characters, even when the boy’s locked himself away from them; Timothy is scolded for talking to women poorly, the pastor calls Jason’s mother out for her illegal sexual acts, and even she shoots back at the pastor for creeping on her constantly, which escalates to her admitting to feeling that she ruins everything she approaches.
Towards the end of the story, the brutal honesty that Tyrone employed against the cast recoils back to him and Jason as Jessica begins to admit her feelings towards Jason and outright states that she is concerned about him acting entirely like Tyrone. Next come the pastor and Jason’s mother, who are well aware of the situation between our main duo, and during their effort to reach out to him, Jason, all but admits, that Tyrone really is a voice for his bottled-up feelings when the puppet shouts to Jason’s mother about killing HIS father before pathetically swapping to OUR father. It is then that we finally get to hear Jason let out his true feelings without relying on Tyrone as a shield, blaming her for his father’s death and telling her and the pastor to get out of his life, but not without the pastor giving one final warning of deciding if Jason really wants to be like Tyrone or not.
After being honest for himself at last, Jason reconsiders what the pastor and Jessica told him about being like Tyrone, he ultimately decides to let go of Tyrone once and for all. However, Tyrone does not go down without a fight. For no matter how much Jason tries to get rid of Tyrone, he will always be some dark part of him. But with the right help and continuing to say what he truly feels, he can keep himself from becoming viciously honest like Tyrone ever again.
What really got to me about this overall play is just how much I could eerily relate to Jason and even a bit to Tyrone. Myself being a deeply awkward and timid guy who has been too afraid to say what I really think when it comes to dealing with less-than-savory people or situations, I too have wished that I could channel that somehow, even if I had to resort to buying a therapy puppet to do it for me. Furthermore, some of Tyrone’s methods punishing and getting revenge with Jason’s peers have been somewhat similar to vicious thoughts that played in my head whenever I or someone I care about felt helpless, scorned, and humiliated that I had to hold back and deeply regret after having let myself think such things. Now watching all of that being played out on a live stage really unnerved me and has been stuck in my memory since then.
And just to further seal the central theme of handling honesty, to conclude this write-up… and feed our appetite for a final round of deranged antics, there is the epilogue when Tyrone rises up, looking more demonic than ever, to give one last sacrilegious sermon. A sermon that hammers in how we, as people, continuously shift the blame for our own problems and how the innocent pay for it. Just as Jason shifted his blame into Tyrone and how it affected his loved ones (Even if Jessica is really the only one who is closest to innocent). But before he leaves, Tyrone gives last warning to the audience, “The thing about a savior is you never know where to look. Might just be the place you saw the devil before”.