By Jessica Dickey; Directed by Daniel Talbott
Produced by Weathervane Productions and Rising Phoenix Repertory in association with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 2.17.19
A.R.T./New York Theatres, 502 West 53rd Street
by Linda Buchwald on 1.28.19
Samantha Soule and Margaret Odette in The Convent. Photo by Ahron R. Foster.
BOTTOM LINE: Jessica Dickey's play is memorable for the strong performances and the fact that women discuss issues that aren't always talked about.
I love the recent influx of plays about groups of teenage girls—including The Wolves and School Girls—because they deal with issues that young women go through that aren't usually discussed. Jessica Dickey's The Convent does the same for adult women. It takes place in the present day at a medieval-style French convent run by Mother Abbess (Wendy vanden Heuvel).
All the women are at the convent for different reasons, running away from something, searching for something, or in most cases, both. Jill (Margaret Odette) is unhappy with her marriage and life. Tina (Brittany Anikka Liu) is often the comic relief, talking about sex, pot, and Renaissance fairs, but she is also still dealing with the loss of her mother at a young age. Wilma (Lisa Ramirez) is an actual nun, but is no longer able to pray. There is also a touching love story between Bertie (Amy Berryman) and Dimlin (Annabel Capper).
The play mostly focuses on the journey of Patti (Samantha Soule), who has been going to the convent for many years. Her arc is fairly predictable and some of the characters are more fully drawn then others, but Dickey has a way with language and most women will probably find something to relate to in this play (not that men can't get something out of it as well). The scenes with all the women talking and bonding are the most enjoyable, thanks to the writing as well as the performances, and have been staged with a delicate hand by Daniel Talbott. The projections by Katherine Freer are somewhat distracting and unnecessary, as we could easily be grounded in a sense of place without them.
According to Dickey's bio, she is currently writing a play about the sex lives of senior citizens. I hope to get a chance to see it.
(The Convent plays at A.R.T./New York Theatres, 502 West 53rd Street, through February 17, 2019. The running time is 100 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30. Tickets are $45 ($20 for students). For tickets and more information visit rattlestick.org.)
The Convent is by Jessica Dickey. Directed by Daniel Talbott. Scenic Design by Raul Abrego. Costume Design by Tristan Raines. Lighting Design by Joel Moritz. Sound Design by Erin Bednarz. Projection Design by Katherine Freer. Fight Direction by Unkle Dave's Fight-House. Production Stage Manager is Rachel Gross.
The cast is Amy Berryman, Annabel Capper, Brittany Anikka Liu, Margaret Odette, Lisa Ramirez, Samantha Soule, and Wendy vanden Heuvel.