Mother Teresa is Dead. That’s one of those thoughts that doesn’t normally float through your mind. When it does, you’re reminded there is a little less good in the world than when she was alive. In ACU’s 2010 Cornerstone Production, Mother Teresa is Dead, we are offered a microcosm view of the fallen world we live in through the production’s four main characters: a crazy bleeding heart, a bigot, a womanizer, and a martyr.
When Jane (Melanie Godsey, sophomore from San Antonio) decides she is not fulfilling her life’s purpose by raising her child and living the life of a consumer in England, she decides to run away to India where she can truly commune with people who have almost nothing. Godsey’s voice belies a character absolutely overcome with emotion, pain and indecision – the constant upward lilt and barely pronounced consonants lend her voice an ethereal, confusedly angelic tone. Her movements punctuate her speaking with bursts of rapid gesticulations or a series of intensely penitent poses.
Michael Siemek, junior from Colleyville, plays Jane’s husband, Mark, a racist, nationalistic man who seems to consider yelling a pastime. Siemek fully inhabits the role, always sitting on the edge of whatever seat he’s in, pacing across the stage, switching his anger on and off in the exact manner of a man exhausted from traveling from England to India in hopes of finding his missing wife. He truly shines in his heated exchanges with the manipulative Srinivas (Dom Huynh, junior from Beaverton, Ore.). Huynh begins as a near Dumbledore – wise and wiry – and cool under pressure, but he quickly devolves into more of a John Tucker (I’m sorry) as we see him playing off Jane’s feelings of guilt to seduce her. Also, I have to mention the fistfight between these two jagged egos. So cool.
The only real voice of sanity in the play is provided by Frances (Ashley Parizek, junior from Dublin, Ohio), the matronly yet feisty proprietor of the house where the play takes place. She mediates as best she can between each incompatible personality and gives sagely advice when appropriate. However, this wisdom breaks down when she tries to apply it to her own life, and she proves to be self-destructive and nearly helpless.
This is not a depressing play. Mother Teresa is Dead presents a world where great things are not possible, but good things are. At the end of the play, when all of the sex and aggression is spent, the four men and women sit and meditate together – a scene that is all the more powerful because of the anger and desperation that precedes it. Great acting, tastefully simple costuming, and the best ACU set I’ve seen in years all bring to life this story of broken people striving to find their places in a moving world.