Play review : Mass Appeal brings thought-provoking drama to Whittle stage

Wendy Elliott
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Halifax actor Lee J. Campbell, left, plays Father Tim Farley, while Sean Robertson plays Seminary student Mark Dolson in Valley Summer Theatre’s new play, Mass Appeal. - Submitted

Valley Summer Theatre has a humorous, but thought provoking drama as its final play this season.

At its core, Mass Appeal is about the bravery required to put principles before popularity. Lee J. Campbell plays Father Tim Farley, a complacent Roman Catholic priest, who encounters the idealism of young seminary student Mark Dolson, played by Sean Robertson.

Robertson shows us a young man who wants to be a priest because he believes that social and moral issues can be affected by what is said in the pulpit. He goads the elder man for his clerical cowardice. ''What you believe has to be more important than what your congregation thinks of you.''

The initial comedy comes from Farley’s attempts to reshape the seminarian in his own Norman Rockwell image, but Farley can't control the young seminarian. Dolson is dead set on going his own way. This drama of ‘need to hear’ versus ‘want to hear’ could be acted out in many different work environments.

Campbell shows us a stand-up comic's mischievousness in Act I, then in Act II, he is increasingly displayed as a lost and wine-soaked soul. The actor and the play culminate when Father Farley finally rises from his own ashes to refocus on a simple faith.

''This is the first time I haven't tried to win your love,'' he says quietly, coming down from his pulpit to face his congregation. ''Only now is love possible.'' Suddenly, we see how far this once-scared priest has come to regain the courage it takes to return to a humble faith.

Directed by Pamela Halstead, Mass Appeal will run until Aug. 17. Tickets can be purchased at the Box of Delights Bookstore in Wolfville, call 1-877-845-1341 or www.ticketpro.ca Ticket prices are $30 regular and $23 for students.

Organizations: Box of Delights Bookstore

Geographic location: Wolfville

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