What exactly are acts of God? Are they miracles, beauty, and life? Or are acts of God something darker like death, destruction, and disasters? This is the question posed in Summit Christian Academy’s production of “Acts of God,” a play that deals with the struggles of a town and the people who reside there in the aftermath of an F3 tornado. Some are relatively unaffected, while others lose everything.
In this ensemble-type cast, several performances stand out. Nicki Murff portrays Kelsey Gerling, a girl whose mother perishes during the tornado. Murff’s performance is effortless and realistic, especially during a scene in which her character grieves at her mother’s funeral. Murff’s delivery is never melodramatic, and she successfully continues to develop her character throughout the show.
As reluctant hero Zach Mencherian, Easton Parks expertly explores his character’s psyche, delivering several powerful monologues. Parks lends a certain straightforwardness and honesty to his character, allowing him to be convincingly filled with angst at times, and humorous at others.
Hannah Zizza delivers an outstanding dramatic performance as Kim Packard, a shy introverted girl who is at work the night of the tornado. Zizza passionately executes a monologue in Act II that recounts how her character’s boyfriend dies in the storm, and the pain that she experiences while talking to him on the phone as he dies. Zizza’s delivery is raw, intensely human, and could evoke sympathy from even the hardest of hearts.
The technical elements of “Acts of God” are all precise and keep the show running smoothly. The stage crew, managed by Corin Hoke and Jake Salm, is silent, efficient, and precise. Make-up by Kylee Schuh is appropriately modern, as are the props by Belle Schooley. All of the performers are easily heard, thanks to the sound crew, and the lighting fits well with each scene. The set by Lawrence Reilly is effectively flexible and functional, and serves the many scenes in the play well.
Some lighting cues are early, and at times some cast members speak too quickly or fumble lines, but these are minor problems, and the show’s message is not lost.
The cast and crew of Summit Christian Academy’s production of “Acts of God” take on the difficulties of this meaningful piece of theatre and succeed in creating a believable portrayal of loss, despair, bravery, hope, and the ability to move on after a natural disaster.
Preston Hereford is a student of Lee’s Summit West High School.