How can God let the innocent suffer? It is a question that perplexes all but the most faithful believers—and one that has surely tormented many of us in the frightful, agonizing hours since the morning of Sept. 11. Do these events prove an absence of God? Or perhaps a more troubling presence, such as the one we grapple with in the Book of Job, the biblical allegory that is the foundation for Archibald MacLeish’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, J.B.? Job—you might recall from Sunday school—is a righteous, God-fearing individual blessed with great fortune. Until, that is, Satan taunts God into challenging Job’s faith by plaguing him with unconscionable tragedy. It’s unclear whether the Rorschach Theatre’s uncanny timeliness in performing J.B. in light of current events is a stroke of good luck—or of misfortune. “There’s always someone playing Job,” says Mr. Zuss (Richard Kirkwood), a movie concessioner and out-of-work actor, who, in J.B.’s contemporary re-enactment-within-the-play, ends up as God. Zuss’ co-worker and fellow down-and-outer Nickles (Grady Weatherford) puts on the red mask of Satan, with J.B. (Tim Getman), or Job, caught in the crossfire. Rorschach’s feisty young troupe has a knack for transforming untraditional spaces—past venues have included a greenhouse and a former livery stable—into great performance stages. As you take your seat in the middle of the Millennium Arts Center’s auditorium, you kick crumpled newspapers and office memos, soda cans, and other detritus—a disquieting allusion to the current state of lower Manhattan. You can almost smell the stench. Rorschach’s set and light designers take advantage of the spooky vastness of the dilapidated former junior-high auditorium, including an inventive use of shadow puppetry, but its sound designer fails to meet the challenge: Poor acoustics often make the dialogue difficult to hear. But that’s not the most disturbing part of the show. Weatherford delivers a robust, dynamic, complicated Satan, but Kirkwood’s God seems distant, stoic, and expressionless—and sounds a lot like Cecil B. DeMille in The Ten Commandments. He’s hardly a magnetic character who attracts reverence. Getman brings much energy and passion to J.B., who loses his wealth, his five children, and even his wife over the course of two hours but never wavers in his integrity and commitment to the Lord. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away—blessed be the name of the Lord,” J.B. recites, even after tremendous suffering and seeming injustice. Kirkwood’s uninspiring performance—along with the confusing introduction of three supposed “comforter” characters in the second half of the show—makes me wonder why.—Elissa Silverman