“Song of St. Tess” is a story of how secrets can shred the ties that bind a family together. Even though the level of the deception may seem tame to some, it is the layers of lies that conceal it that will be familiar to all. It is also discovered that every family has their own particular idiosyncrasies that they proudly boast and defend. Tragically, this same pride has talons that tear the tenderest of hearts.
The play opens to a nightmare. The guilt that Tess (Allison Donnelly) holds is preventing her from being the mother she once was. Because of a death of a beloved child, the family is on the mend, save Tess. Sisters Deena (an earnest Sierra Abel) and Joyce (a radiant and charismatic Lindsay McGee) are young, vivacious teenagers who do typical teenage things. Ex-husband Edward (Scott Hanselman) bears the brunt of Tess’s shame as she left him for John (a stalwart Dennis Delsing) who has recently moved in. It gets better. Enter Edward’s sister, eccentric Eva (Tina Gloss Finnell) whose inner viciousness exacts a particular kind of revenge.
There is a real beckoning to the story. Writer Chris Collins makes a convincing argument of the sanctity of grace through truth but forces the issue at times. All the staging clicked but director Anne Marie Bookwalter needs to impose more of her will onto the cast. Sometimes a director needs to be a drill sergeant. “Song of St. Tess” argues that truth told is truth forever worn.
“Song of St. Tess” plays through May 10 at the Secret Rose Theatre (11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601). For more information, call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.SongofStTess.com.