A World Apart
nytheatre.com review by Di Jayawickrema
February 5, 2011
"Have we gone too far?"
"It's they who can't go far enough."
A World Apart tells the tale of a nun and priest who discover that clerical life is hindering their spiritual growth, and the young nun who bears witness to the existential journey that ensues. Thoughtful and earnest, this play is a small but neat success.
Lee Savage has created a minimal set that makes excellent use of levels by way of a spiral staircase from which Sister Cornelia, played by Amelia Workman, can watch the budding relationship between her superior, Mother Augustine played by Antoinette LaVecchia, and the charismatic radical priest in whom she finds her spiritual counterpart. When Father Byrne, played by Andy Paris, comes to speak to the convent about how their cloistered clerical lives keeps them from engaging with life and making a real difference in the world, a similar flame of belief—or doubt—is kindled in Mother Augustine. Inevitably, this intellectual co-attraction leads to a sexual one.
By embarking on an illicit and hesitant affair, Mother Augustine and Father Byrne manifest their struggles with celibacy and faith. The conflict inherent in Susan Mosakowski's script is subtle and is proficiently portrayed by the two leads. Workman's role is just as crucial and through observation of their spiritual loss and compromise, Sister Cornelia makes her own existential gain.
Jean Randich's direction is assured and Mark Barton's lighting design, especially, is cleverly executed. Flooding a generally dark stage with bright yellow light at key moments, especially through heavily backlight crosses on the walls, the play tracks the characters' movements between the light and the dark. An overall solid effort.