As one who loves live theater, it is especially fun to have the occasion to see a new play about which I know nothing. Such was the case on Friday evening when I entered The Heritage Center in Morrisville to see The Actors’NET of Bucks County’s performance of THE CHARITABLE SISTERHOOD OF THE SECOND TRINITY VICTORY CHURCH by Bo Wilson. As a first time visitor to this charming, intimate space, I was pleased on many levels. The theater staff was cordial, the seats were fine, and the production was first rate.
This regional premier follows on the tail of its inaugural performance in Virginia this past summer. Director Joe Doyle’s connection with the playwright afforded Actors’NET this wonderful opportunity. It is a play that theaters, looking for an opportunity to showcase five actresses in an audience friendly, smart comedy, should consider.
THE CHARITABLE SISTERHOOD OF THE SECOND TRINITY VICTORY CHURCH takes place in the basement of the church where some members have gathered to sort the results of a charity drive to help the needy people of Guatemala. A terrible rain and flooding have limited the members who actually show up. The first two to arrive are Lorraine Jenson (Vicky Czarnick), a world weary mother of nine who views any opportunity to escape her brood as a gift from the Lord, and Tina Yates (Allison Deratzian) a relative neophyte to the community from the “Northern” state of Maryland. The latter is looking for a way to fit in and is very eager to help. The third member we meet is Bea Littleton (Virginia Barrie), the pastor’s wife and leader of the Charitable Sisterhood. She is a micro-manager with a heart of gold.
Through Act I they are joined by Janet Murcheson (Maryalice Rubins-Topoleski), a suspicious newcomer and Riley Reynolds (Alexa Gutter) whose discovery at the end of Act I turns the play from a delightful collection of smart, insightful quips to a meeting of women who can all learn from one another.
After intermission the play becomes a series of personal revelations that forces each of the members of the Charitable Sisterhood to examine herself and her core values. The play, however, is not about the “twists”, but rather about how we all need to learn and grow from our connection to one another. It is warm and poignant at the same time.
Actors’NET provides a wonderful ensemble performance by the cast. To single one out would be an injustice to the remaining four. They each have their moments, but the best compliment I can give to the production is that each is so firmly rooted in her character that they watch each revelation through the eyes of that character and facially attend to the speech fully in character.
Joe Doyle’s direction creates pictures for each character to shine as he uses the intentionally messy set by wife/designer Cheryl Doyle to its best advantage. Each layer of the production –including lights by Andrena Wishnie, sound (which includes convincing voice over performances by Matthew Whiteside and Thomas Elijah Davis) and props coordinated well by Stage Manager, Kelly Allen—contributes subtly to this charmingly funny evening of theater.
If you are a theatergoer looking to laugh and feel good or a theater looking to find a comic vehicle for female characters, then THE CHARITABLE SISTERHOOD OF THE SECOND TRINITY VICTORY CHURCH is where you want to be. It runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday until September 28th. For information call 215-295-3694 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE CHARITABLE SISTERHOOD OF THE
SECOND TRINITY VICTORY CHURCH
by Bo Wilson
Directed by Joe Doyle
September 12—28, 2014
Actors’NET of Bucks County
635 N. Delmorr Avenue (Route 32)
Morrisville, PA 19067