God Takes the Rap

So maybe Dan Riley's Spinelli, a play about humans railing against the life God dealt them, isn't exploring uncharted territory. But Riley, a degreed theologian, brings a rare combination of creativity, intelligence and belly laughs to his twist—in our litigious world, why not sue God with a heavy-hitter? It makes sense. After all, who has deeper pockets?

In this case, Adam and Eve charge God with entrapment in the Garden of Eden caper that condemned them and all their descendents to mortality (death sentences). Adam and Eve (a wonderfully innocent Beau Moore and Thea Sutton) hire Spencer Tracy (solidly portrayed by Mark Finnell) to prosecute. God (a delightful Richard Bender Allan) is no fool, though, and counters with Katherine Hepburn (an exceptional Tina Gloss) on defense. In supporting roles, E.P. McKnight deftly portrays Judge Barbara Jordan, while Ian Downs' Serpent and Noah Wagner's Jackal are showstoppingly funny. An impressive courtroom set, courtesy of H.P. Drake III and Tanya Schlicht, and a gifted, on-the-money cast gathered by director Daniel Leclair improve on Riley's clever tale.

But Spinelli isn't flawless. There are stumbles, over-the-top moments and a dilemma: How do you end a play in which the humans so clearly have the Almighty by His balls?

Spinelli at the Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 494-1616; www.seatadvisor.com. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun. and Oct. 1, 2 p.m. Through Oct. 7. $15.

 
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