Robert Askins' "Hand to God," an irreverent sketch about the devil in a hand puppet, had its Obie-winning premiere downtown at MCC Theater before moving to Broadway and amassing major Tony nominations. Now his next comedy, "Permission," is back in the same tiny playhouse. The subject -- devotion and hypocrisy among conflicted Texas Christians -- remains the same.

But this one, about something called Domestic Christian Discipline, feels unfinished, as if Askins had a flashy idea but never figured out with to do with it. Two married couples -- including one played by Justin Bartha and Elizabeth Reaser -- learn about the positives and negatives of a male-dominated cult that believes they are spanking for Jesus. Butt falsies, devised by costume designer Paloma Young to protect the actors, are impressive. That's about it.

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WHERE Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St.

INFO $69-$75; 212-352-3101;