Theater Review: A CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD (Dezart Performs in Palm Springs)

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by Jason Mannino on March 7, 2024

in Theater-Palm Springs (Coachella Valley)


It is rare to see intimate, loving friendships between straight and gay men both in life and on stage. In A Case for the Existence of God, running at Dezart Performs through March 10, playwright Samuel D. Hunter masterfully crafts a narrative that defies stereotypes and societal norms, portraying a deep, intimate relationship between two men, one straight and one gay. Against the backdrop of life’s trials and tribulations, Hunter weaves a story that is refreshing, poignant, heart-breaking, and hopeful. He sheds light on the complexities of human connection and the power of empathy.

In the cubicle of a modest brokerage firm in small town, Twin Falls, Idaho, two men unexpectedly forge a deep friendship. Keith (Dennis Renard) — a junior mortgage broker — and Ryan (Jacob Alden Roa) — a worker at a yogurt plant with dreams of creating a legacy for his daughter by buying and building a home on his family’s land from decades past — discover a shared “specific kind of sadness.” The office discussions about loans give way to heartfelt conversations about the suffocating grip of financial insecurity and a mutual understanding of the uncertainties of parenthood. With a blend of humor, empathy, raw honesty, and love that transcends romance, Hunter skillfully weaves together these two lives, bridging the gap between different experiences of marginalization.

Michael Shaw excels when directing works of a more serious nature, showcasing his nimble, visionary hand to its fullest extent. Renard and Roa, who have previously thrived under Shaw’s guidance in award-winning Dezart productions (with Renard earning a DTL Star award for his role in Choir Boy), demonstrate mastery in their portrayal of these characters. The synergy between all three is nothing short of magical, captivating the audience completely. We become deeply invested in these characters, fervently rooting for both.

When the curtains close on this nearly sold-out run at the Pearl McManus Theater, it’s evident that Hunter’s work will leave a lasting impact. It’s no wonder he was awarded the 2022 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play Award. In an era where meaningful connections are often overlooked, A Case for the Existence of God serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of not just theater, but the friendship and enduring search for meaning in our lives.

photos of Jacob Alden Roa and Dennis Renard by David A. Lee

A Case for the Existence of God
Dezarts Performs
Pearl McManus Theater
at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club, 314 S Cahuilla Road in Palm Springs
Fri & Sat at 7:30; Sat and Sun at 2; Sun at 7
ends on March 10, 2024
for tickets ($48-$55), call 760.322.0179 or visit Dezart Performs

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