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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
The Busy World Is Hushed
Thomas, an atheist, doesn't agree. He thinks it's the work of his father's mysterious death. This man, a minister, walked into the sea before Thomas was born and drowned. Whether accidentally or deliberately, is a question mother and son still pursue as they leaf through his father's old books.
Thomas has become a footloose wanderer, who has left many schools and aborted many professions. Hannah enlists her new assistant Brandt (Josh Mann), a writer who is working with her on a scholarly dissection of a recently found gospel, attributed to the apostle called Thomas. Nicknamed Doubting Thomas by the other apostles, he may be the earliest documentarian of Jesus. Hannah wants to believe this. Thomas wants her to stop believing in what he calls ghost stories and get a life. He believes her faith stands between them.
Hannah desperately tries to have it both ways. She can't give up her faith but encourages Brandt, who is as obviously attracted to Thomas as Thomas is to him, to form a relationship with her son which she hopes will keep him by her side and safe.
There is no easy answer to the question of faith and Bunin, to his credit, is more interested in the journey. Thomas is accused of using his rejection of his much-loved mother's faith as a excuse to run away from her and a stable life. Bunin seems to be getting at the dangers of religion looming over a family circle and it's certainly not a new idea. Even the growing love between Brandt and Thomas can't survive it.
This fascinating wordplay gets a fine production at the Meta Theatre by Bright Eyes Productions but unfortunately the theatre's acoustics are not good. Though the excellent cast articulate clearly, much of what they say is swallowed up.
Berns does a sterling job as a forceful woman who has won a position of authority and is averse to having it undermined, even at the expense of losing her son. Hardin has winning charm as the scruffy Thomas and Mann brings credibility to the intellectual writer.
Director Richard Kilroy evokes the essence of these characters and is also responsible for the warm intimate set design on the Meta's tiny stage. The play's title comes from a memorable prayer in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and is in itself a subtext for the enduring beauty and power of faith.