How can a modern, intellectually curious Abbess lead her nuns, if she herself has no knowledge of worldly issues? That is the question that reverberates throughout A World Apart by Susan Mosakowski. The Abbess, Mother Augustina, is played by Antoinette LaVecchia with delicacy, beauty and intelligence. Sister Cornellia Amelia Workman and Father Byrne Andy Paris complete the cast, directed by Jean Randich. Mother Augustina, a voracious reader and modern thinker, is a patient teacher as demonstrated in her scenes with Sister Cornellia. These scenes are jewels unto themselves, with these two fine actresses. We are pulled into their relationship and it is pure joy to watch them together. In full habit and wimple, it is their faces and calibrated voices which tell us all we need to know. Mother Augustina?s questioning of the larger world and specifically the laws of celibacy come to a head with the arrival of Father Byrne. A modern thinker himself, Mother Augustina wonders if he holds the answer to her questions. The path to this discovery is halting and difficult but in the end, she does find her answers. The Flea Theater is brilliantly transformed to an Abbey, with lighting Mark Barton and set design Lee Savage. The use of the space, through design and direction is captivating and inspiring. Often the negative space and sound are equally employed to evoke a time and place. There are some clever and wonderfully surprising uses of space as well. This intelligent play celebrates religion and the spiritual self in the context of personal responsibility and higher thought without cliche or obvious bias. There are so many truly beautiful moments in this production. A World Apart is playing through February 26th.
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