Without a propelling story line, Anthony Crowley’s Redemption considers the relationship between the priesthood, corruptness and sexual depravity.
Set in Melbourne, a young Catholic priest, Ben (Crowley), returns to his childhood church to interview an older priest and his former mentor, Terry (Tom Considine), about accusations of sexual abuse. Their conversations dither between frivolous ruminations and fiery accusations. At once making allegations and explicit confessions about sexual abuse and the next chewing the fat over the footy season.
Crowley and Considine took some warming up to achieve the usual flowing rhythms of conversation. Once the pace of natural banter was set, the subject matter could truly be appreciated.
Considine was noteworthy in portraying a conflicted man and in challenging the narrow paradigms of what it is to be bad. Through Terry, the audience was forced to consider the complexity of the human condition, and whether a person is multilayered or if an immoral act is inherently sinful. When the audience should have had felt disdain, they felt pity.
The intimate setting of the La Mama Courthouse theatre was well suited and indeed complemented the intimate dialogue . Throughout the play the stage was dimly lit and the set was sparse with a dining table and chairs . The understated design enabled the actors to move about freely and to take up natural positions of two people conversing across a dining table.
Given the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse , the subject matter is timely, and elicits strong opinions. Redemption is a strong commentary on these events, with imagined conversations questioning the concepts of immorality and redemption.