When Aaron Larsen takes the stage on Tuesday evening at Mountain View High School, it will be in the role of a man mercilessly tested by the Almighty.
    And the Book of Job-inspired "God's Favorite" might seem a fitting allegory to students and faculty at this 1,450-student school, which has suffered the loss of two recent graduates to the war in Afghanistan this week.
    On Monday, 2008 graduate Carlos Aragon was killed when he stepped on a pressure-activated homemade explosive while on a foot patrol in the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. Two days later, 2007 graduate Nigel Olsen, a fellow member of the Utah-based Charlie Company of the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, was killed in the same volatile region.
    Larsen, who was a friend of Olsen's at school, said the mood across campus in the wake of the deaths has been understandably dour. Now he is hoping that a tandem of religious comedies -- his play and "Nunsense," which opened Friday evening -- might help mend the student body's wounded spirit. "When times get tough, when sadness happens, this is when you need to laugh," the lanky 17-year-old said as he took tickets at the doors of the school's auditorium.
    There were not many tickets to take on Friday, and some of the cast guessed that might have something to do with the fact that many of their classmates weren't in a laughing mood.
    "Everyone's just trying to get along with what has happened," said habit-wearing junior Brianna Long as she prepared to take the stage as one of the surviving Little Sisters of Hoboken, members of which are reeling from the simultaneous deaths of dozens of members of their convent and decide to stage a variety show to fund the burials.
    In "Gods Favorite," Joe Benjamin is visited by a messenger of God -- so identified by the oversized "G" on his shirt -- and must resist temptation and affliction to prove his holy loyalty.
    "It's about how you deal with adversity and how it could split a family apart," said drama teacher Nathan Criman. "It could -- but it doesn't."