An Episcopal Priest, her estranged son, and her ghost writer make for some interesting circumstances and dialog in Diversionary’s current offering of The Busy World is Hushed. Under Dan Kirsch’s able direction Jerusha Matsen Neal as priest Hannah, Aaron Marcotte as son Thomas, and Barron Henzel as writer Brandt present not only family conflict, but also an interesting look at religion.
It is truly refreshing to listen to some interesting discussion of organized religion as well as the feelings of a liberal mother about her gay son. The gayness does not bother her as much as their relationship or lack of a relationship. Thomas, who unjustly feels repressed by his mother’s vocation, is pure rebel without a cause or direction. Brandt, generally, appears as a voice of reason in some of the conflict. He develops a relationship with Thomas, which Hannah readily endorses.
Hannah is working with some recently discovered Gnostic Gospels and is writing a book on her findings and interpretations through Brandt’s pen. Their working relationship becomes problematical as Brandt feels the tension between her and Thomas. Even his relationship with Thomas is strained.
Playwright Keith Bunin has crafted a very interesting script as the themes of religion and sexuality become, at times, intertwined and certainly thoroughly examined. He picks his words carefully and then plays with them.
Neal provides us with a rushed speaking style reminiscent of a sermon much of the time. She is quite convincing in her role. Neal is an ordained American Baptist minister.
Marcotte gives Thomas an edge that emphasizes both his rebelliousness and his confusion. Thomas’s ability to love is shown in his original relationship with Brandt a complex role well executed.
Henzel’s role as Brandt gives him a good range as a confidant, a lover, and, at times, a person immersed in the conflict between mother and son.
Director Kirsch provides visual variety in this script dealing so strongly in philosophical differences. Greg Stevens’ homey and purposely cluttered set works well. Dick Greene created an interesting stained-glass look that, in itself, highlights some of the story points.
The Busy World is Hushed is an interesting piece, providing plenty of inspiration for long after theatre discussions.
It is playing at the Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA, Thursday through Sunday and Monday, October 15, thru October 28, 2007. For reservation and show times, call the Box Office at 619 220-0097.
Barron Henzel, Aaron Marcotte, Jerusha Matsen Neal
Set Design Greg Stevens, Lighting Design Matthew Bright, Properties Amy Chini, Costume Design Erick Sunquist, Sound Design Bonnie Breckenridge, Stained Glass Dick Green, Stage Manager Chris Powel, Prod SM Bret Young, Tech Rob Norton, PA Trevor Peringer
Total Rating: Two and a half stars
Author: Keith Bunin
Director: Dan Kirsch
Date Reviewed: October 7, 2007
Dates: Thursday thru Sunday & one Monday, October 4 to 28, 2007
Running Time: 162 minutes with a 15-minute intermission
4545 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA
Box Office Phone 619 220-0097