Comedic Debate Over Religious Beliefs at Gutsy Penguin Repertory, Stony Point

BY GEORGE J. DACRE

Author Evan Smith delves deeply into the Bible, and Catholic and Evangelical beliefs in this “heaven-sent comedy,” as Penguin’s artistic director Joe Brancato describes “Savannah Disputation.”

Director Mark Shanahan gets the most out of a stellar cast that includes Susan Pellegrino as Mary and Tina Johnson as her sister, Margaret, both staunch Catholics, who get a surprise visit in their Savannah, Georgia home from cheery Barbie doll looker Melissa (Kate Siepert) who calls herself a evangelical missionary with the aim of getting Catholics to renounce the Catholic Church.

Melissa quotes the Bible and Mary is astounded and Margaret bewildered so much so they call in Father Murphy to back them up and confront Melissa. But Father Murphy, while he challenges Melissa, is not so tough and it gets to the point where he may excommunicate Mary because she does not accept the theology of the resurrection of the body.

Heard enough….well get to Penguin Rep and catch the entire dialogue. It is astounding at times, depending on your own personal beliefs, funny many times and really good theatre. The cast has vast Broadway Theatre experience and it shows with Margaret and Mary playing well off each other and Melissa just right in her part, where she challenge their beliefs. Bill Phillips as Father Murphy is really cool.

This vehicle makes you think, may shock you and definitely will amuse you. I rate “Savannah Disputation” Three Stars out of Four.

The play opened Friday night, May 16 and will continue weekends through Sunday, June 8 at the theatre on Cricketown Road in Stony Point. Tickets at penguinrep.org or 845-786-2873.