James McLindon's drama, set in 2000, re-examines the early days of the scandals of child abuse by Catholic clergy. The Church was in deep denial (remember the Pope's attempts to dismiss the horror stories as the inventions of the hostile American press?), and the public was struggling to cope with its own naiveté.
Young Kevin Jordan, after being seduced by his parish priest, Father Marchand, sank into depression, drugs, and finally suicide. Now his mother, Marie (Jane Macfie), is struggling with a profound sense of guilt about her failure to protect her son and is determined to obtain some kind of justice from the church. Her salty, meddlesome, cantankerous mother, known as Nana (the very fine Patricia Place), though devout, has come to regard the Church with contempt. Bishop Buckley (Jerry Hoffman) is more concerned with the welfare of the Church than with the welfare of his parishioners. Marie's nephew Father Terrence (Robert Dionne) attempts to mediate, but he's in line for promotion in the Church's hierarchy, so he's disinclined to make waves, even though he, too, was forcibly seduced by Father Marchand. As Nana tartly observes, for Terrence, "It's all about power."
McLindon's play is full of effective, if overly familiar, scenes, but his focus seems scattered, uncertain which of his characters is the crux of the story. Father Terrence, certainly the most troubling of the lot, is continually shunted to the sidelines, as the comic squabbling of Marie and Nana takes center stage.
Director Kevin Cochran provides sensitive direction to his four fine actors. Macfie brings quiet authority and a sense of unvarnished, everyday reality to Marie, while Place's wry, eccentric disenchantment provides welcome comedy. Hoffman's Bishop is a familiar waffler, determined to protect the church from scandal. And Dionne lends considerable charm to Father Terrence, whose smooth exterior masks the ruthlessness of his actions. Leonard Ogden provides the handsome unit set and the modestly appropriate costumes.
Presented by Grove Theater Center at GTC Burbank,
1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank.
Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. Jun. 1-23.
(818) 238-9998. www.gtc.org.