Peel the Limelight launches the 2019 Season with the 2015 Tony Nominee for Best Play, “Hand to God” by Robert Askins.  

A hilariously dark comedy, New Yorker magazine claimed it is where “Sesame Street meets the Exorcist”!

Directed by Peter O’Neill, the play teaches us about grief, love, loss, truth and what can be salvaged from the wreckage of our lives! The religious undertones ask us to examine the amazing paradox of salvation! 

“A dark comedy with the can-puppets-really-do-that raunchiness of Avenue Q and can-people-really-say-that outrageousness of The Book of Mormon.”
— The New York Times

Synopsis

Inspired by the author’s upbringing in religiously conservative Cypress, Texas, this wickedly scandalous dark comedy tells the story of how Jason and his mother, Margery, cling onto living after the death of Jason’s father. They turn to the one constant in their life, the Church! With the help of Pastor Greg, they devote themselves to the Christian Puppet Ministry to work through their grief.  Alongside hormonal Timmy and girl next door Jessica, it seems to be helping, that is until Jason’s puppet, the acidic and acerbic Tyrone, starts to take over!

Production history

“Hand to God” first opened at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in NYC in October 2011. It continued in development Off-Broadway and in April 2015 premiered on Broadway at the Booth Theatre. It was nominated for 5 Tony awards including Best Play.  In 2016, it opened in London at the Vaudeville Theatre where it was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.  In 2016, it was the most produced piece of theatre in America.

About the author

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Robert Askins - Playwright

Robert Askins was born in 1980 in Cypress, Texas. A graduate of Baylor University, he moved to New York in 2005. His play “Hand to God” received an Obie Award, opened on Broadway in 2015 and was nominated for Tony and Olivier awards, and was one of the most widely produced plays in the United States in 2016. His other works, “The Carpenter”, “Princes of Waco”, “The Squirrels” have been produced at repertory theatres across the United States. He is currently developing feature film projects and a comedy series for HBO. 

Peter O’Neill - Director

Born in New York, with a BA in Theatre from College of the Holy Cross and an MFA in Theatre from CALARTS, by way of London, Peter is co-founder and Artistic Director of Peel the Limelight. Peter has acted, directed and produced for the stage in Los Angeles, New York, London, Melbourne and Southeast Asia.

His first production for Peel was Martin Sherman’s “Bent” in 2014, followed by Rajiv Joseph’s “Gruesome Playground Injuries” in 2015, Shaun Prendergast’s “The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, The Ugliest Woman in the World” in 2015 (IATC Best Director Award), Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive” in 2016, Lee Hall’s “Spoonface Steinberg” in 2017. In 2018, in the new Peel the Limelight Studio, he directed John Pielmeier’s “Agnes of God”, “Hollow” an original work based on WWII sex slaves and Ariel Dorfman’s “Death and the Maiden”.

James Laver - Jason/Tyrone

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James is a graduate of the Oxford School of Drama and the University of Cambridge. He has lived in Bangkok since 2007.

Previously with Peel the Limelight, James appeared in “Bent”, “How I Learned to Drive”, “The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World”, “Hollow”, and the one-man show “I Am My Own Wife” which Time Out praised as “A riveting success”. Other stage appearances include roles in “Stick Figures”, “The Little Prince”, “The Never-Ending Loneliness for Two”, and “BOXES”.

In addition to his work for stage and screen, James is also a voice artist, close-up magician, and magic consultant for the stage.