BWW Review: Is Agnes a Sinner or Saint?
Manila, Philippines--Repertory Philippines' (Rep) current production of "Agnes of God," a play by American playwright John Pielmeier, tells the story of a novice nun who has borne a child believed to be a product of a virgin birth.
In "Agnes of God," director Bart Guingona gathers three equally intense actors: Becca Coates as Agnes, Pinky Amador as Mother Miriam Ruth, and Menchu Lauchengo-Yulo as Dr. Martha Livingstone. In this production, Guingona further succeeds by providing a clearer understanding of Pielmeier's philosophical thriller in the guise of a murder-mystery story.
Scenic designer Joey Gonzalez-Mendoza's minimalist set creates a Gothic atmosphere that's cold, distant, which parallels the internal struggles of the play's main character. Mendoza's set design also brings forth an effective theatrical setting for the three-way tug of war of emotions among the characters.
Mostly narrated by Yulo's character, Dr. Livingstone, she shifts from one position to another: from being a "nurturer" to being an "enemy," from an unsentimental psychiatrist and skeptic to a believer. On stage, Dr. Livingstone serves as the "intermediary" between the mysterious world of Agnes, which Mother Miriam believes to be favored by God, and the audience members, which represent a scrutinizing outside world.
Yulo almost never leaves the stage; she only has probably around three quick respites from uttering monologues or engaging in dialogues. Her shifting of emotions is seamlessly presented, which subsequently provokes the audience members to even start questioning the relationship between religion and science.
Convincingly, Amador's Mother Ruth is able to expound to the audience members her "door to understanding" the probability of having miracles in Agnes' life while recognizing the realities of today's world, which is rather harsh, judgmental environment. Amador who had the opportunity to play the role of Agnes in the early '80s and is now playing Mother Ruth gives her a better perspective on the internal struggles of both characters.
On the other hand, Coates's Agnes paints a beautiful but tormented soul whose abusive upbringing has affected her ability to think rationally. Agnes is the perfect representation of people who go through sufferings in life whose hopelessness make them turn to God, but end up with failed expectations and eventually losing their grip--having a difficult time to reconcile partial truths from the blind admiration of a supreme being.
Rep's "Agnes of God" is presented by special agreement with Samuel French Inc. Its remaining playdates at Onstage Theatre at Greenbelt One, Makati City, are March 5, 3:30 p.m.; March 10, 8 p.m.; March 11, 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and March 12, 3:30 p.m.
For tickets, call TicketWorld at (632) 891 9999 or visit TicketWorld.com.ph.
Photos: Paolo Ruiz