Center Stage: Noli Timere (don’t be afraid)
Silent night, darkened night, all is calm till there’s the fright; a knock at the door at 2 a.m. in the morning. I would say Noli Timere which translates into Don’t be afraid is more like “Be afraid, be very afraid.” Have I scared you yet? Well there is a lot of scary stuff that goes on in this 2017 – new play contest winner by author Jared Michael Delaney.
It starts with a knock on the rectory door, when Father Thomas (Thomas Marsh) answers; in stumbles a very frightened Man (Ken Johnson) who needs immediate help, for he pronounces that he has been possessed by the devil. The priest though sympatric is doubtful of this man’s possession since he is not Catholic and exorcism needs a firm belief. This is the premise that drives the play. We also learn a great deal about the priest and his relationship with his sister Mary (Dena Galyean) along with his deceased mother.
The playwright artfully shifts Thomas and Mary’s past to the present in a series of vignettes that take place in full light in front of the rectory set. Meanwhile the Man and Thomas confront each other bringing up Thomas’ past and the various events and disappointments that have led to Thomas joining the priesthood. Subtly, the priest and the Man exchange roles and it seems the priest becomes possessed by his past guilts. And here’s the intriguing part of this well nuanced play the ending is really “the beginning.” Gotcha, are you scared or intrigued yet? By the way if possible see this play with friends so you can discuss how you all reacted to “Noli Timere,” it’s interesting how others experience this absorbing play.
If for no other reason to see “Noli Timere” see it for the brilliant acting going on, on stage. Thomas Marsh as the priest vacillates seamlessly from a tower of righteousness to a humiliated sinner. Dena Galyean gives what could only be called a powerful, grounded performance as Mary. This woman stands her ground when she’s on stage, proving herself to be a fine and versatile actress. Ken Johnson not only plays A Man (the devil) subtly, he becomes the epitome of an evil presence, and that’s without makeup, costume or lighting change. I must admit I have always admired Ken’s performances whether as a song and dance man starring in musicals like “Me and My Girl,” “The Will Rogers Follies,” “Company” or straight plays such as this one. Ken breathes life into any part he plays, yet totally making every role he tackles his own. That in a word is acting in capital letters.
Director Bill Taylor flexed his directing chops and brought home a winner which also includes credits for his simple but telling set design, mood lighting and sound effects. Bravo Bill, Cast and Playwright Jared Michael Delaney for a first-rate production that will keep you on the edge.
Don’t delay and get your scary fix by calling the Theatre Conspiracy Box Office now at (239) 939-2787; when you phone, remind ’em Marsha sent you.