Reviews of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You and The Actor’s Nightmare

By Bea Wolff

Jonathan David Lewis Photography

Teaching nun Sister Mary Ignatius (Joanna Churgin) lectures the audience about the complexities of Catholic dogma.

Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You illuminates the lengths to which the true believer will go to protect a belief system. Joanna Churgin is unwavering in her portrayal of the nun, giving a creepy depth to the character as she lavishes attention on seven-year-old Thomas, played to perfection by Brighid Fleming. Sam Bianchini portrays with credible anguish the once-loyal Diane Symonds, and Hunter Davis, Genevieve La Court and Justin Sanders provide strong depictions of adults who all suffered from the Sister’s cruel tutelage. Jeremy Aluma’s direction captures the despair of these wayward Catholics—just as the walls of set designer John Merritt literally close in on them.

The Actor’s Nightmare is Durang’s spoof that about an actor’s worst fear: to be caught on stage without knowing his lines. Johnny Arena portrays with conviction George Spelvin, a man whose confusion of identity leads him to search for sense in a world with ever-changing but familiar sets, costumes and characters. Julie Civiello, Amir Levi, Angie Light and Kat Primeau are superb, as is Craig Fleming as “Voice.” With terrific lighting design by William Wilday and costume design by Heather Marie Bassett, Aluma’s direction spotlights the plight of everyman, whose life’s end proves as meaningless as the play.

The Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Boulevard, May 1 to May 29, 2010. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Reserved seats $18; $15 for students/seniors. To make a reservation, go to www.morgan-wisxon.org or call 310-828-7519.

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