The subject of pedophile priests in the Catholic Church merits a serious play, but James McLindon’s “Dusk,” although certainly well-intentioned, doesn’t entirely succeed as a drama for a couple of reasons.
First, regrettably, is the simple fact that the story no longer has surprise or shock value. Today, this story needs strong writing to make its case.
Unfortunately, although there are some sharp moments, overall the play is clumsy, with at least one character whose actions don’t ring true. Grove Theater Center’s presentation of the show, however, is solid, with Kevin Cochran’s direction smooth and the talented cast members doing their best.
In April 2000, Marie (Jane Macfie) is waiting. She’s been waiting for a long time, ever since her son committed suicide. In his youth, he was molested by a priest, and he never recovered from the trauma.
Marie is waiting for a call from her lawyer regarding her case against the church. She isn’t so much interested in how much money she might receive as in getting an admission of guilt from the church, and, most importantly, an apology.
As she waits with her irascible mother, Nana (Patricia Place), she’s visited by her relative Father Terrence (Robert Dionne). He says he wants to help, but Nana doesn’t trust him.
Macfie is mostly fine as the exhausted Marie, although her reaction to finding her son’s body didn’t seem entirely credible.
Dionne is quite good as the complicated Terrence, but his character’s motivations simply aren’t believable as written. Place steals the show with a vivacious and hilarious perf, although this dirty-minded granny character is a bit of a cliche.
Finally, Jerry Hoffman brings an appropriately aggrieved gravitas to his role as Bishop Buckley, the one character in the piece who demonstrates the intelligence and subtlety that the rest of the show needs.
Leonard Ogden’s slanted set is homey and efficient, with the added symbolic value that the actors have to walk higher up to get to the church office, and higher still to get to Marie’s son’s grave