By: Hafliši Sęvarsson, Universiteit Utrecht
The story line in Woody Allen's God is twisted and turned. It comes
close to utter absurdity as ancient Greek masters have to argue
with lonely Manhattan late night theatre visitors in a plot that
seems to be falling into pieces every time Allen introduces a new
character, which seems to have no relation to the creatures which
have already appeared.
God is a reflection of bizarre human life. The scenes incorporated
in God are in different periods and different locations. The jumps
between the scenes are not necessitated by the play's events themselves,
but they are illogical jumps between different worlds, which can
occur in every human mind, because these worlds are familiar to
every human mind.
Describing the story line like this is better than accounting it
because a viewer of God should not have the idea that he or she
knows what is happening and why it is happening. God should be appreciated
for its stylistic devices, which Allen employs with extra ordinary
Because the viewer knows the worlds he presents, one may get the
impression that the piece was produced without a major investment
in finding the most suitable scenes. That would make God a mere
assemblage of random ideas. However cliché the worlds may be, Allen
knits them together so well that the impression becomes that his
grip on the story is perfect.
With a nearly perfect grip, the places and peoples in Allen's God
each acquire an inner meaning themselves, to which the audience
can relate. Whether it is the absurdity of the God-machine or Zeus,
whether it is the boredom or the sex deprivation among the actors
sitting in the hall or whether it is the final desperate cries from
the protagonist as he realises he cannot control his fate, they
all present the audience with a concept itself has to deal with.
This shock of reality is polished and profound.
In the end, the curtains fall on God but not on the audience. To
the late night visitors the concepts do not cease to exist while
in God they are merely a joke. The superb style is paralleled only
by the sarcastic humour, which is common to much of Allen's work.
Whether you read God, see it in the theatre and even become a part
of it as an actor, the semi-ridiculous and semi-profound Allen theatre
story is a laugh.