Reviewed by Matt Ritchey
Guilt is two short plays presented as a thematically linked show, produced by Cyanide Theatre. The first, The Holy Name of Apostasy written by Ryan Lisman and Benjamin Schwartz, tackles the current situation in the Catholic Church and the number of priests finally being “excused” because of their inappropriate behavior with young boys. In Apostasy, Mother Dawn (Varda Appleton) is now taking over the Catholic school after one of the priests has excused himself. However, this doesn’t seem to solve the problem of the seduction of young boys. In fact, student Dylan (Brandon Courture) finds himself being seduced by Mother Dawn who plays not only on his faith and youth but with her power as an authority figure. One could argue whether or not this is quite the right time to show how power can corrupt regardless of sex by gender swapping an all-too-familiar scenario, or whether a nun just risen to power would be this reckless, but the point is clear and the performances and direction are well-executed.
Man Vs. Armadillo, Schwartz’s piece, is a semi-tragic tale of dementia and the toll it can take on a family. Dick (Kevin Scott Allen) is out at night (or rather, early in the morning) with a rifle, searching for rogue armadillo he’s sure has been plaguing his backyard. His son John (Ryan Lisman) tries, as he’s done many times before, to talk some sense into his dad if just to get a few more hours rest. But he knows that the ultimate answer to this problem is much larger – it’s time for Dad to go into a home for professional care. The subject is handled delicately and both Allen and Lisman do engaging emotional work which makes the finale all the more tragic.
Throughout both of the plays, a live musician plays from the balcony above the stage, his arsenal a collection of drums and atonal soundmakers which emphasize the undercurrent of emotion more than scoring melodically. This often works and is a unique and fun concept, but with two very different plays, the same “musical” attack feels a bit off by the second half. But overall, a good evening of theatre on one theme with very different takes.
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