Agnes of God is Riveting, Chancy Production for Mesquite

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Rebecca (Bekki) Jones, left, plays Sister Agnes, a young nun accused of murdering her newborn child while psychiatrist Dr. Livingstone, portrayed by Teri Nehrenz, tries to solve the riddle of the child’s death in the Virgin Valley Theatre Group’s current production of ‘Agnes of God.’ Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

While the stage may look empty and bleak, the emotional turmoil you find yourself in is anything but. And while you may think just three actors can’t fill the wide range of talent necessary to pull off a two-hour riveting rollercoaster, you might want to re-think that and attend one of the upcoming performances of Agnes of God at the Mesquite Community Theatre.

You’ll only see three actors on stage for the entire play. Amazingly, the scenes are changed by the lighting and placement of the actors. Rebecca (Bekki) Jones plays Sister Agnes, a young nun accused of murdering her newborn child. Having been in only one previous stage performance, Jones does a remarkable job through her voice, projecting the child-like innocence the dialogue demands. And, you’ll swear it’s angels singing when it’s actually Jones.

Mother Superior, played by Marilyn (Mike) Brenner, and psychiatrist Dr. Livingstone, portrayed by Teri Nehrenz, are amazing as they duel against each other at times but both wanting what is best for Sister Agnes. The captivating shouting matches they have betray the torment each feels as they remember their own lives with their own vicious memories. Neither wants that for Agnes but at times feel helpless to prevent it.

Above all else, all three women must re-examine the meaning of faith and the power of love.

If you’re familiar with the stage play first performed on Broadway in 1982 and later the film adaptation in 1985, you’ll know all three roles are some of the most demanding in any production. That the Virgin Valley Theatre Group had the courage to produce it for local audiences speaks to the talent in both acting and production that VVTG has developed over the years in Mesquite.

Teri Nehrenz, left, plays psychiatrist Dr. Livingstone in the Virgin Valley Theatre Group’s current production of ‘Agnes of God’ as Mother Superior, portrayed by Marilyn (Mike) Brenner tries to help find the truth about the death of a newborn baby. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Teri Nehrenz, left, plays psychiatrist Dr. Livingstone in the Virgin Valley Theatre Group’s current production of ‘Agnes of God’ as Mother Superior, portrayed by Marilyn (Mike) Brenner tries to help find the truth about the death of a newborn baby. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Agnes of God, written by John Pielmeier, is not for the faint of heart as it explores moral and religious issues both in and out of the institutional Catholic Church. Director Glen Bjornson, who has produced many excellent performances in the past through the VVTG, said “I believe it is our responsibility to challenge both our theater artists – the actors, directors, designers – and our audiences by producing works that expect us to think, feel and struggle with the difficult issues of life and living, death and dying.”

While the ending leaves many unanswered questions (which we won’t tell you) there’s one question of which you’ll know the answer when you leave the theater – can the Virgin Valley Theatre Group produce a renown Broadway play in Mesquite in extremely good fashion?

You bet they can.

Agnes of God runs Friday and Saturday nights, Jan. 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 with show times at 7 p.m. There is a matinee performance, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and are available online at vvtgnv.com and at the MCT Box Office at 150 N. Yucca St.

(Editor’s note: Nehrenz is the calendar editor and a freelance writer for Mesquite Local News.)

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