Anthony Gooley states his case for God

Anthony Gooley states his case for God
Image: Antony Gooley and Elijah Wiliams in A CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. Image: supplied

Getting beyond the title may be difficult for some, but A Case For The Existence of God is one of the most acclaimed American plays in recent years.

“In this play there are two men from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds finding a connection,” Anthony Gooley, actor said.

“For me that connection is an instance of God.”

The play comes from the prolific mind of Samuel D Hunter, who also wrote The Whale, the 2022 Darren Aronofsky film that saw Brendan Fraser win the 2023  Academy Award for Best Actor.

A Case for the Existence of God  has also accumulated its share of accolades including the New York Drama Critics Circle Best Play in 2022.

In an inversion of stereotypes the two-hander concerns Ryan (Anthony Gooley), a straight white single father after a divorce, who lacks education and social mobility, and Keith (Elijah Williams), a gay black man who is polished and educated and lives with his foster daughter.

Antony Gooley and Elijah Wiliams in A CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. Image: Craig Baldwin

Ryan is applying to Keith for a loan to buy back land that his family has lost, and over the course of the play the two men slowly let each other into their worlds.

“While they come from these different backgrounds of life experience they connect and they discover they share a profound fear of losing the things they cherish,” Gooley said.

“The writing is nuanced and detailed with a lot of minutiae and shade between both characters.

“Samuel D Hunter’s writing is so ambiguous and complex you are never in any danger of thinking about stereotypes”

The play is also close to home for Samuel D Hunter, who lives and teaches in Idaho, where the play is set, with his husband and young daughter.

Adapting to the Idaho dialect was a challenge for Gooley and one that he took on early.

“We have a wonderful vocal coach on this production, Linda Nicholls-Gidley, and I started working with her some time before we even started rehearsals because I wanted this stuff out of the way so when we got to rehearsals I was just thinking about reacting with the other person,” Gooley said.

Anthony Gooley. Image: supplied

Gooley also drilled down further into his character, Ryan to the extent of how he would vote in a state that is likely to determine who wins the next presidential election.

“Idaho is a staunchly Republican state and I started thinking about whether my character Ryan would have voted for Trump in 2016 and whether he would have voted for Trump in ’16 but not in ’20 because of Covid, and all of those computations,” Gooley said.

“We have to be so detailed in the dynamics and those smaller details because if we don’t follow the changes and shifts in the psychology and emotions there is a danger of it being a long night for the audience watching two guys in chairs shooting the breeze.”

Idaho may be a long way from the Seymour Centre’s Reginald Theatre but Gooley thinks Sydney audiences will get it.

“The themes and concerns of the play are so universal and I think that contemporary Sydney audiences with our skyrocketing costs of living and the seemingly impenetrable property market I don’t think it will be difficult for Sydney audiences to connect with the play,” Gooley said.

A Case for the Existence of God is directed by Craig Baldwin, produced by Jeremy Waters for Outhouse Theatre, with set and lighting design by Veronique Bennett.

April 11 – May 4

Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre,Cnr City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale

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