Onyx's 'God' more appetizer than main course

Chaos Theatre's "God," now at the Onyx, zips by quickly and harmlessly. There's not much to it, but what's there is OK.

It's a minor 1975 Woody Allen play, but even minor Allen can be very much worth seeing.

Here, the playwright tackles all the great questions, beginning with the purpose of life (of course, this is a comedy). Two toga-clad men, Diabetes (Shane Cullum) and Hepatitis (Mick Axelrod), know they're mere fictional characters. As they try to figure out the ending to their author's play, time shifts from ancient Greece to modern Manhattan. You never know who will pop up to comment on their action. One moment Blanche DuBois is chatting endlessly about her predicament; the next Zeus descends to make sport with the little people.

Mercifully, Allen provides no answers. He just wants to make us laugh over the unexplainable. Director Jeremy Nino captures the blissful chaos of the happenings and the punch lines. And all the while, we're made aware that these poor saps are trying seriously to deal - as we all do - with unsolvable mysteries.

There's not much imagination involved with the staging. Actors go in and out of believability. Cullum plays things straight, which makes him amusingly befuddled, but Axelrod comes across as a stand-up comic. He tries too hard. Nino, in a number of roles, is humorously likable. Michael O'Neal communicates a variety of parts well. When he plays young, he comes across as a youthful Tom Cruise. He projects an appealing down-to-earth sanity that makes you want to watch him.

You may forget this production five minutes afterward - it feels like a classroom exercise - but it might have been a fun appetizer to a main course. The show was advertised as a one-hour one-act, but it ran 20 minutes shorter.

That's too brief. Why no companion piece?

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.