In love and faith there is what you can verify, and there is what you believe.
Sister Judy by Shawn Macdonald marks the last show at the Arts Club Revue Stage as they prepare to leave the venue and take up residence in a new space in the Olympic Village area of False Creek. This final show is a charming and intriguing one act, with big ideas on the power of love and the conflict of faith.
Sister Judy teaches religious history at a Catholic University, where she is well liked by both students and staff. She is spunky and fun, with a big open heart. Her best buddy is Father Frank, and every Friday the two get together to drink single malt scotch and trade massages. As a new reclusive and questioning student Ruth joins Judy’s class, the two women form a bond at the same time Father Frank begins to question his faith. Sister Judy remains resolute for both of them, trying to keep them believing.
Everyone has a secret and things begin to spiral out of control as they are revealed. Themes such as scholastic evidence, versus myth and doing what is right for others versus doing what it right for you, are debated and challenged. Playwright Macdonald balances his arguments in both directions, allowing the audience to decide what is right for them. He also crafts three warm and witty characters building empathy for their plight, despite the challenge of all three being so guarded.
Jenny Wasko-Paterson as Sister Judy is full of warmth and fun, but there is also a steely devotion to what she believes is right. She is a rock of hard conditional love. Mike Wasko is charming and you can feel his pain through his winsome smile. He casually tosses off the line “don’t worry about me, pray for me” with laid-back heroics.
Lili Beaudoin is factual and glib as the student Ruth and like many teens, fills Ruth with rage and tears hidden behind a wall of brave solemnity.
Director Patrick McDonald keeps the show flowing for the most part and helps his actors to keep their performances fresh and truthful. During a long dinner scene, however, the play slows down after a misdirection in the script is revealed. Fortunately it picks up after more secrets get shared and the dramatic bombshells explode.
Sister Judy is a lovely drama about faith and love, as well as a bittersweet good-bye to the Arts Club Revue Stage.
Sister Judy by Shawn Macdonald. Directed by Patrick McDonald. An Arts Club Theatre Company production. On stage at the Revue Stage (1601 Johnston St, Granville Island) until March 21. Visit https://artsclub.com for tickets and information.