“Letting Go of God” Critical Success


Julia Sweeney
Photo by Brent Nicastro

Comedian Julia Sweeney’s masterful one-woman show, “Letting Go of God,” which she previewed before lucky freethought audiences, including those at FFRF’s Northwest Pacific Mini-Convention last summer, is winning superlatives in mainstream theater reviews.

In fact, Wenzel Jones, for Backstage (Oct. 20, 2004), began his review by saying:

“My vocabulary is deficient in superlatives. . . What she achieves, though, is a quiet perfection, accompanied by rich laughter, which gently takes you by the hand and leads you through–to employ the previous working title of the piece–her beautiful loss-of-faith story.”

Jones adds:

“Watching Sweeney shamble about the lovely set, which is piled high with books and religious imagery, is like being privileged to spend a couple of stolen hours alone with your very favorite person as she putts about her way-cool house.”

He concluded: “Sweeney may have lost her faith in God, but she’s certainly restored mine in theater.”

The LA Weeklyplaced “Letting Go of God” in its “recommended” slot, as did La Opinion, a Spanish newspaper.

Wrote LA Weekly‘s Steven Mikulan: “At times ‘Letting Go of God’ is gruesomely funny, especially when, during a bible-study class, Sweeney discovers the Old Testament’s Cro-Magnon bigotry, while imagining the Christian Book of Revelation as a bad acid trip.”

The Los Angeles Times, in a review by Rob Kendt (Oct. 14, 2004) titled “Finding God’s Funny Bone,” calls her show “brave, hilarious” and a “gale-force breath of fresh air.”

Kendt noted that “the humbly sage Sweeney has needling questions that can’t be swatted away . . . While she scores some easy, flawlessly deadpan laughs at the expense of Mormonism, Deepak Chopra, astrology and Catholicism, the tradition she says she was happily raised in, she is after much bigger game than cheap disdain. As she says to an imaginary God she’s at last parting with near show’s end: ‘It’s because I take you so seriously that I can’t bring myself to believe in you.’ “

Notes Kendt: “Sweeney delivers her monologue with her trademark blend of ironic confidentiality and best-friend candor.

“Believers of all stripes and intensities, as well as nonbelievers who may scoff a little too facilely, will be challenged and disarmed with stick-in-your-throat laughter by Sweeney’s utterly uncynical, blusteringly honest testimony.”

Julia Sweeney, who grew up in Spokane, Wash., and studied economics at the University of Washington, was on the “Saturday Night Live” TV show for four hit seasons.

Her unforgettable androgynous character, “Pat,” spun a feature film, “It’s Pat.” Within a matter of months, her brother was diagnosed with cancer, and so was she. Those experiences led her to write and star in “God Said, ‘Ha!’ “

The award-winning play was released theatrically. Sweeney’s recording earned her a Grammy nomination for best comedy album.

Julia has appeared on the big screen in her friend Quentin Tarantino’s blockbuster “Pulp Fiction.” A veteran of live television, she has also acted in feature films, including “Clockstoppers,” “Whatever It Takes,” “Stuart Little,” “Thick as Thieves,” and “Beethoven’s 3rd,” among others. Her one-woman show, about the adoption of her daughter Mulan from China, “In the Family Way,” ran off-Broadway last year.

“Letting Go of God” is playing weekends at the Hudson Backstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, through at least mid-December. Check Julia Sweeney’s website at www.juliasweeney.com or phone (323)960-4420 for details.

The show is expected to continue in other venues, to be filmed, and is the precursor to a book by the same name which Julia is working on for Henry Holt & Co.

Way to go, Julia!

Freedom From Religion Foundation