OnStage Massachusetts Columnist
Peterborough Players continues their inaugural winter season with Bill C. Davis’ play Mass Appeal directed by Keith Stevens. The play revolves around Father Tim Farley, the well-liked priest of a thriving Catholic Church, and Mark Dolson, a passionate young seminarian, who challenges Father Farley, his beliefs, his work style and the Catholic traditions he holds on to. The friendship they develop forces them to see things in a different light, ask some difficult questions, and renew their faith to better serve their parishioners and the world they live in.
The set featured Father Farley’s office space on one side and the St. Francis Church pulpit downstage on the other. It was simple, but detailed in its adornments and prop pieces. The scenic design was by Gus Kaikkonen, while props were designed by Jessica Ayala and lighting was designed by John Eckert. The sound design by Will Howell included hymns that played in-between scenes which helped to keep the audience fully engaged in the play.
Gus Kaikkonen portrayed Father Tim Farley and Adam Sowers played priest-in-training Mark Dolson. Both were intriguing, effective and mostly realistic in their portrayals. There were a few line blunders and a bit of mumbling through lines during the production, but nothing that was too detracting from the overall performance. The play itself is interesting to watch and holds the audience’s attention throughout. It is both a realistic and humorous look at timeless issues still relevant today within the Catholic Church and Religions worldwide.
There were a number of moments within the show that received laughter from almost the entire audience. One was when Kaikkonen, as Father Farley, sarcastically retorted to Mark that he was like a Father “Bojangles” when Mark insinuated that Father Farley gave “song and dance” sermons to his congregation. Another was when Father Farley tells Mark that exuding confidence is the most antagonizing thing. When Mark was giving his first sermon about why people go to Mass he was not as well received as he would have hoped. The audio recording of congregation members coughing was perfectly timed and Sowers’ reactions were spot on. Mark’s next sermon goes a bit better as he explains why he wanted to become a priest. One poetic line that Sowers’ spoke so genuinely was when he described listening for the screams of angels as he sat in church as a child. Sower’s heartfelt and vigorous portrayal was apparent throughout the play and the ending leaves the audience wondering what will become of Mark.
This play, while at many times comedic, will also get you thinking and possibly asking yourself a few questions such as: “Are you here to affect a positive change in the world or to just sit around and drink wine?”. © This engaging comedy is rated PG-13 and runs just under 2 hours including a 15 minute intermission. Mass Appeal plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, until February 11th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org
Left to Right - Gus Kaikkonen as Father Tim Farley, Adam Sowers as Mark Dolson. Photos by Will Howell
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