With everything going on it’s quite an interesting time for a play that focuses on what we’re told vs. what we believe, and how we then take these ideas and react to them.
That Catholic Thing centres on Maurice and Louise who live in a small Catholic village in Ireland and are very much a product of their strict upbringing. Louise is a staunch agoraphobic Catholic, whilst Maurice is a non-believer until he has a dream from God and uses this newfound enlightenment to breed a new strain of Catholicism.
The play fundamentally explores the extremes that religion can go to and the effects this has on people; we see Maurice finding significance in something seemingly insignificant, speaking in false tongues and attempting faith healings…the latter for me was pushing things a bit too far.
I get what That Catholic Thing was trying to do and it achieved it, showing that if you believe enough and people have need enough they will follow, but for me it didn’t hit the right mark.
I couldn’t invest in most of the characters and felt Maurice’s transformation bordered more on the slapstick turning into arrogance, making him such an unlikeable character. Louise was one of those characters you wanted to help; she became so stuck in herself that she didn’t have room to grow. However, that wasn’t the point of the piece.
I do have to say that there were two standout performances from Kane Surry, playing Mikey, a man with autism, and Alex Nowak, who played Len – a deaf man who stumbled upon the madness (Len himself is a deaf actor). These performances felt raw and natural, in the case of Mikey so beautifully acted and presented, and Len had fantastic comedic timing. I wanted more from their characters, rather than them solely existing as just plot devices.
Written by Anne Bertrand, the play comes from a personal place which made me reevaluate what I had seen, making the exaggeration of it all the more meaningful in the point it wanted to make.
I walked in wanting Father Ted but instead got something that wasn’t quite all there yet…
That Catholic Thing is on at Camden People’s Theatre until July 16th.