Olney Theatre Center The Savannah DisputationBy Michael Clark • Aug 10th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Olney Theatre Center
Olney Mainstage, Olney, MD
Through August 22nd
95 minutes, no intermission
Reviewed July 31st, 2010
It’s been said that you should never discuss religion or politics in polite company. The Savannah Disputation shows what happens when you ignore that advice and invite an evangelical missionary to have dinner with your priest. The laughs around such a serious subject as personal faith should keep a smile on your face even as you wonder about laughing at religion.
Beth Hylton is Melissa, a Pentecostal missionary who is witnessing door-to-door and trying to convince sisters (but not Sisters) Mary (Brigid Cleary) and Margaret (Michele Tauber) that their Catholic faith is false, and that Melissa’s faith has all the answers. Mary decides to invite Melissa to supper the same evening that Father Murphy (Jeff Allin) will be visiting. The dinner conversation is a series of misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and lessons learned the hard way.
Hylton’s Melissa was cloying, yet late in the play she was appropriately chastised as she learned more about the Catholic faith by Father Murphy, the reluctant teacher. Allin was convincing as he resisted the urge to put Melissa in her place, egged on by the cynical Mary. Cleary reveled in her ability to say things many of us are frequently thinking. And Margaret, her sister, was wide-eyed and innocent, with Tauber’s energy and fear of going to Hell never becoming tiresome.
Director John Going kept the pace of this one-act show up, with bursts of anger from Allin actually feeding the laughs. The set of Mary and Margaret’s home by James Wolk was incredible. It showed a great deal of depth by using scrims in many places, as well as providing a lot of detail. I especially liked the doorways and windows that were on the inside walls of the home. Lights by Dennis Parichy were designed with a great deal of attention.
The Savannah Disputation is running through the 22nd. Make the trek out to Olney for a very enjoyable production.
Photos by Stan Barouh for the Olney Theatre Center.
- Mary: Brigid Cleary
- Melissa: Beth Hylton
- Margaret: Michele Tauber
- Father Murphy: Jeff Allin
- Managing Director: Amy Marshall
- Artistic Director: Jim Petosa
- Producing Director: Brad Watkins
- Associate Artistic Director: Clay Hopper
- Director: John Going
- Scenic Designer: James Wolk
- Costume Design: Liz Covey
- Lighting Designer: Dennis Parichy
- Wig Designer: Anne Nesmith
- Sound Designer: Christopher Baine
- Stage Manager: Renee E. Yancey
Disclaimer: Olney Theatre Center provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5382.