Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Agnes of God

I attended the Hubris productions presentation of  Agnes of God on  recent evening and was bowled over by the fine acting and the excellent direction by Jacob Christopher Green of this famous play.  Written  by John Pielmeier, it tells the story of a novice nun who gives birth and insists that the dead child was the result of a virgin conception. A psychiatrist and the mother superior of the convent clash during the resulting investigation. The Hubris production featured Barbara Roeder Harris as  Martha, the Psychiatrist; Lorraine Freund as the Mother Superior; and Sara Pavlak as Agnes, the Novice. There are no other characters on stage.  All three roles are considered demanding and these actors succeeded in handling those demands well.  Martha covers the full gamut of emotion during the play, from nurturer to antagonist, from hard nosed court psychiatrist and atheist to faith-searching healer. She is always on stage and has only three small respites from monologues or dialogue while Agnes and the Mother Superior enact flashbacks to events at the convent.The Mother Superior must expound the possibilities of miracles while recognizing the realities of today's world, of which she is painfully aware. Agnes is a beautiful but tormented soul whose abusive upbringing has affected her ability to think rationally.  Sara Pavlak's performance as Agnes was outstanding for her ability to sing beautifully and portray the right balance of innocence and hysteria that is called for by the role.  The issues of belief versus non-belief and questions about the nature of the events of both the evening of the birth and the moment of conception leave the audience wondering about the nature of truth, belief and life.  This was a great production of a powerful play.  

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