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Mass Appeal | The Midnight Company

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theat-mass_sm.jpgOnce again, The Midnight Company has brought a compelling and well-produced play to St. Louis.

 

 

 

Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis
Written by Bill Davis
Directed by Joe Hanrahan

theat_mass.jpgOnce again, The Midnight Company has brought a compelling and well-produced play to St. Louis. This time it's Mass Appeal, the tale of two sides of Catholicism—Fr. Tim Farley (Steve Springmeyer), a status-quo priest, and seminarian Mark Dolson (Travis Hanrahan), intent on shaking things up.

The play begins with what Fr. Farley terms a "dialogue sermon," a question-and-answer presentation during Sunday mass. Dolson speaks up, asking provocative questions and insisting on answers as the priest tries to sidestep the questions. We soon learn that Dolson, with his radical ideas and refusal to accept the complacency of the church, is on thin ice at the seminary, and he is assigned to Fr. Farley for what is believed to be much-needed guidance.

The elder relates such lessons as, "Sermons should be understood. Proper grammar doesn't necessarily help with understanding." When confronted about his vanilla sermons, he admits, "I like being liked; it gives me a warm feeling. That and wine are the only warm feelings I have."

Deacon Dolson, on the other hand, staunchly maintains his idealistic point of view. "I don't like song-and-dance theology," he tells Fr. Farley. In response to the priest's advice of "Don't kick ass," Dolson retorts, "Better that than to kiss it." Later, Fr. Farley advises, "If you can afford not to become a priest, tell the truth. If you want to become a priest, lie."

Rather than merely impart wisdom and structure to the young scholar, Fr. Farley ends up learning from and eventually embracing Dolson's youthful ideals. Even as the assignment dissolves into what the Monsignor deems failure and priest and student find their paths diverging, there is evidence that the two continue to be influenced by one another.

Springmeyer is absolutely spot on as Fr. Farley. An alumnus of The Midnight Company (he appeared previously in Life After Death, Love Match, Soldier Boy and The Little Frenchy Files), he continues to impress with his ability to assume a character and present it fully and believably. A definite talent, Travis Hanrahan is a little less impressive, if only because he seems to approach each character the same in each of his appearances.

As the play is set in a church, set design is nonexistent; Joe Hanrahan's direction ensures that everything runs smoothly and believably. | Laura Hamlett

 

Mass Appeal runs through Saturday, Nov. 15. Tickets are $15 ($10 for seniors and students) and may be reserved by calling 314-487-5305. For more information, visit http://www.midnightcompany.com/.

The company's next production will be a February performance of Give ‘Em Hell, Harry.

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