Agnes of God
by John Pielmeier, directed by Jeremy Tow
February 5 - 27, 1999
by Robin Wong
Agnes of God is a bold and unsettling drama. It is the story of a psychiatrist's efforts to ascertain the mental competence of a twenty-one year old nun charged with the murder of her newborn child. The play raises provocative questions about sanity, innocence, the sanctity of religious life, and the possibility of a miraculous virgin birth. In the play, upon discovery of a strangled newborn baby in her wastebasket, Sister Agnes, a fragile, almost child-like character, professes no knowledge of the baby's birth or death, can offer no reason for the presence of its body in her room and, until hypnotized, claims to have no memory of ever being impregnated. Against the wishes of protective Mother Superior Miriam Ruth, a cynical court-appointed psychiatrist named Martha Livingstone searches for a logical, worldly explanation to the crime.
Gina Chiarelli (Mother Miriam Ruth), Katherine Venour (Sister Agnes), and Anita Wittenberg (Dr. Martha Livingstone ) complemented each other tremendously with their wonderful acting abilities and their own unique styles. Great job, Jeremy Tow (Director). I had the opportunity to see Gina Chiarelli in Reservations for Two and can truly call myself a fan. Katherine (Agnes) portrays her character beautifully, does a super job singing, and does an eye-popping re-creation of the birth of her child. I was very impressed with seeing Katherine's work for the first time.
Anita (Dr. Martha Livingstone) is perfect in her role and shows a lot of compassion for Agnes. I particularly enjoyed the heated confrontations with Mother Superior and "Jesus Christ as the Marlboro Man." This was my first time to see Anita as well and it was a pleasure to see her work.
Gina (Mother Miriam Ruth) is great! She is one lady who can really turn it on when she wants to. I had the opportunity to speak to her after the show about her performance and she was very humble. All three of the women were very warm, friendly and genuine as well as good-looking.
This play is very emotional and dramatic, with a very deep and powerful subject matter. You could even see the audience with tears in their eyes during certain scenes. I could also tell people were into it by the silence and those who were on the edges of their seats. At first when I sat down, I didn't particularly like the venue, but it worked. The staging was unique and there wasn't a bad seat in the house.
The only negative comment I must make about this play is that of the cigarette smoking. I understand the importance of this at times, but during the whole of Act I, it was constant and sometimes distracting as numerous people were coughing. A welcome change in Act II as this did not happen nearly as much and fresh air returned. We were warned about the smoking, but a little less would have been great
This is an enjoyable two hour and twenty minute play. If you get a chance, come on down and check it out. It's well worth the money. Two thumbs up!
(Robin Wong comes to us from the East Coast where he was a school teacher for six years. At present, he is a talented actor with many years of theatre acting and training. He is also an ESL teacher and a dance instructor. Robin loves to write and enjoys seeing plays and movies, even doing a review once in a while.)