Sunday, September 22, 2019

Eclipsed--Corrib Theatre—SE Portland

                   The Lost

    This searing, true story, is written by Patricia Burke Brogan and directed by Gemma Whelan.  It is playing at the New Expressive Works space, 810 SE Belmont, through October 13th.  For more information, go to their site at

    Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the pews of the Catholic Church, after the scandal with the pedophile priests, this story surfaces as to the treatment of unwed mothers (and other undesirables) in laundry facilities, run by nuns.  Cruelty, under a religious guise, is nothing new in History.  The Crusades are one example...and the Salem Witch Trials…the Inquisition of France and Spain…and the current Middle East conflicts over Islam.  Faith in a God is, quite honestly, a personal thing and should not be a whipping post for personal vendettas, usually designed to lord over people for personal/political gain.

    I, myself, am a jack-Catholic and also have worked in religiously-run institutions, where children were housed, often by parents who “tired” of them hampering their lifestyles, which does, I believe, emotional, life-long trauma to the child.  And the natural curiosity about sex was always an issue with these young folks.  But, since their home situations were abnormal, they would rebel, as much the same ways these girls did, and the consequences often were abortions or orphanages for the products of their desires…preventive measures were deemed to be an “encouragement” to them, so were discouraged.

    In this story’s representative situation, of some years ago in Ireland, five girls are punished for their “sinful” behavior, of having a child out of wedlock (no punishment is done to the boys of these “unholy” unions), and they are confined to a laundry facility run by nuns, to wash the dirty linens of the holier-than-thou clergy.
    Nellie-Nora (Jamie M. Rea) is a bit of a loner but seems to watch out for the others…she’s a survivor.  Juliet (Wynee Hu), a newbie, is a wide-eyed innocent, horror and wonderment lining her actions.  Cathy (Sasha Belle Neufeld) is sicky and is constantly trying to escape.  Mandy (Dainichia Noreault) is a dreamer and fantasizes about marrying Elvis Presley and living in Tinseltown.  And Brigit (Lucy Paschall) is an angry, young lady, who lashes out to the point of violence when threatened.  All confined to a hell-on-earth.

    And running this questionable reformatory is the martinet, Mother Victoria (Lorraine Bahr), who would have had Hitler applauding her methods.  She is a no-nonsense dictator whose chief rule of order is Obedience at all costs and sticking to the rules, no matter what!  The only ray of sunshine is the sympathetic, Sister Virginia (Victoria Alvarez-Chacon), a novitiate (inspired, perhaps, by the author herself, who writes from first-hand experience).  She feels for the girls and their plight but is also under the thumb-screws of her superior.

    The play is grim and unnerving but also powerful, as it turns over yet another stone in the seemingly, never-ending story of corruption of those in power.  The cast is exceptional and one of the best ensembles I’ve seen!  Whelan has cast it very well and staged it simply but effectively.  Every one of these ladies should be touted for their performances, as they are all excellent!  Watch for the very touching and sad scene of the “marriage” of Mandy and Elvis, a highlight in the show.  Kudos, Ladies!

    This may not be for the squeamish but “attention must be paid!”  Somewhere, somehow, someday, maybe the “meek” will inherit the earth and “We, the People,” will prevail.  There is hope on the horizon, in the young who are rising up to fight global warming, gun violence, corruption in leadership and, I hope, they succeed.  “And a child shall lead them,” it is said, so maybe the time is finally at hand.

    I highly recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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