Theatre review: A Case for The Existence of God, Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre

A two-hander about close male friendships and mental health.
Two men sit on chairs side by side. One reaches across to hold the hand of the other.

A Case for the Existence of God makes a strong case for the importance of male friendships. Ryan (Darcy Kent) is a white, straight man who comes to Keith (Kevin Hofbauer), a black, gay man, to enquire about getting a mortgage. These two men who seemingly occupy very different worlds slowly develop a friendship over the course of the play. Samuel D Hunter, best known for the award-winning The Whale, explores material that is not often seen on stage with great care and sensitivity. 

This friendship is based on what Ryan describes as a ‘shared sadness’. The sadness is in relation to their daughters and the fear they both face every day of losing custody of them. The connection they find with each other allows them to explore their shared vulnerability and develop a complex male friendship. Hunter’s writing makes the development of their relationship both believable and relatable. This starts with the awkward and humorous interactions over the complexities of obtaining a mortgage and builds to the two characters sharing their deepest fears and traumas. 

Hofbauer and Kent are excellent in their roles, and they have a great onstage chemistry that makes the developing relationship between Keith and Ryan seem natural and authentic. The close male relationship is not commonly explored in theatre and this powerful exploration of male mental health makes a case for this being explored more in the future. 

The state of the world provides a background for the two-hander. Ryan comments on how money gives him permission to exist, obtaining a home loan is a necessity for his very existence. The difficulty he faces in obtaining a mortgage isolates him and makes it difficult to build a future for him and his daughter.

Keith discusses the complexities of fostering and adopting children and how difficult it can be as a single man. The question of how these two individuals can find happiness and security drives the plot forward to its powerful conclusion. The play builds great empathy with the audience and a desire for a happy ending. The running time of approximately 75 minutes moves the story along rapidly, but it doesn’t feel rushed or overwritten. 

The set design by Jeremy Pryles brilliantly supports the feeling of isolation. The two protagonists spend their time in the tight confines of Keith’s work cubicle. The cubicle is set on a stage that is surrounded by water, creating the effect of the two being cut off from the rest of the world. As they struggle with their own place in the world, they simultaneously worry about the world that awaits their daughters when they grow up. The desire to pause time and not have to worry about the future is a strong takeaway for the audience. 

Read: Exhibition review: Nina Sanadze, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

The title is misleading and while a connection between the material and the title can be made it distracts from the content. This is a minor flaw in what is otherwise a superbly written and acted play. Gary Abrahams has taken Hunter’s brilliant play and delivered a wonderful production. While the play primarily focuses on male friendships, there is something here for everyone. 

A Case for the Existence of God by Samuel D Hunter

Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre
Director: Gary Abrahams
Set/Costume Design: Jeremy Pryles
Lighting Design: Sidney Younger
Composition/Sound Design: Rachel Lewindon
Dialect Coach: Matt Furlani
Assistant Director: Marni Mount
Stage Manager: Genevieve Davidson

Cast: Kevin Hofbauer, Darcy Kent

Tickets: $20-$68

A Case for the Existence of God will be performed until 12 May 2024.

Kim Hitchcock is a freelance writer based in Melbourne who has an interest in all art forms and enjoys exploring them locally and abroad. He has completed a Master of Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne and can be reached at