Monday, April 26, 2010

Review: Faith, ideals, humanity themes of 'The Runner Stumbles'

Although the UIS Theatre's production of "The Runner Stumbles" is set a full century ago, when Catholic Church rituals and practices were much more structured and Catholics were struggling to gain acceptance in America's predominantly Protestant culture, its themes and plot elements remain timely.

On one level, "Runner", which plays today, Sunday, and April 29-May 1 at the University of Illinois Springfield Studio Theatre, appears to present familiar, almost stereotyped, images of a tradition-bound, repressive Catholic Church and backward, suspicious small-town residents, blended with a traditional murder mystery. But on a deeper level it is about the eternal struggle to reconcile faith, reason, and emotion and aspire to high ideals without losing touch with one's humanity.

Directed by Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson, the two-act drama by Milan Stitt -- based on an actual court case -- takes place in a Michigan logging town in 1911, where the former Catholic parish pastor, Father Rivard (Dug Hall) is on trial for the murder of a young nun, Sister Rita (Ellyn Thorson) four years earlier.

The review was published in a April 24, 2010, article in the State Journal-Register.

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