Liberty Theater Department Performs Emotional Journey of Love and Loss
Grace Ehrhorn left no dry eye in the Black Box Theater with her poignant portrayal of Brigid Mary’s journey of love, loss and faith in “Little Moon of Alban.”
Liberty’s theater department’s production of “Little Moon of Alban” opened Nov. 11, telling the story of young Irishwoman Brigid Mary Mangan’s wrestling with the grief of losing her fiancé.
Set in Dublin, Ireland, during the 1919-21 Irish War of Independence, the play introduces the audience to a lively Brigid Mary and her fearless fiancé Dennis. It is Dennis’ birthday, but the mood is anything but celebratory as he emphasizes his intentions of fighting the English.
Brigid Mary has already lost her father and brother to the war when she watches an English soldier kill Dennis at the door of their Catholic church later that night. She becomes belligerently angry and heartbroken, cursing God for his ironic cruelty of letting Dennis die just after leaving confirmation class.
The priest brings Brigid Mary to the Daughters of Charity, who take her in and tend to her emotional and physical injuries. She later decides to take vows to join the community herself, against the wishes of her mother.
Assigned as a nurse to a hospital for English soldiers, Brigid Mary wrestles with her grief and anger over Dennis’ death. In the emotional, soul-stirring conclusion to the first act, she tearfully pleads with God for enough strength to do her job.
A severely injured English soldier arrives at the hospital and undergoes surgery by a doctor who is doubtful the soldier will survive. He assigns Brigid Mary to care for the man — a lieutenant named Kenneth Boyd, played by Seth Somers.
When the man awakens, his pessimism and patronizing attitude towards Brigid Mary’s faith causes them to bicker. However, they slowly form a friendship over the following weeks. Brigid Mary develops an interest in Kenneth’s spiritual life, and Kenneth develops an interest in her.
Brigid Mary’s mother, who has ignored her letters for months, arrives at the hospital with a message from Dennis’ friend and fellow soldier Patch, played by Aaron Hall. Patch tells her he attempted to avenge Dennis’ death and wounded the soldier who killed Dennis, who was likely taken to Brigid Mary’s hospital. Against Brigid Mary’s will, her mother reveals the name of the soldier: Kenneth Boyd.
As she hears this, a nurse calls her into Kenneth’s room. He has taken a turn for the worse and will be taken into emergency surgery. Claiming delusion as an excuse for his audacity, Kenneth tells Brigid Mary he loves her.
After he survives the surgery and his health improves, Kenneth sits Brigid Mary down and asks her to be his wife. He has been made aware of their unfortunate connection but believes they can have a beautiful relationship in spite of her grief. Kenneth urges her not to renew her vows but to meet him at his home in England where he promises to meet her at every train going into his town.
The room holds its breath after Kenneth finishes his proposal. Kindly but firmly, Brigid Mary tells him she will not be on the train.
This sweet yet sorrowful moment concludes Brigid Mary’s journey of faith. In her grief, she has found belonging through serving the God she once cursed.
The play’s title“Little Moon of Alban” alludes to a line in “Deidre of Sorrows,” a work by Irish playwright John Millington Synge. Brigid Mary affectionately calls Dennis her “little moon” in the play’s opening scenes. She later quotes the play as she closes the window to Kenneth’s vacated hospital room in the final scene.
“Little moon, little moon of Alban, it’s lonesome you’ll be this night,” she says.
Faith, a central theme of “Little Moon of Alban,” and its myriad of struggles relate the 20th century characters to today’s audience. As Brigid Mary reckons with her faith and grief, she and those around her raise the age-old question of how believers come to faith in God. Do they choose God, or does God choose them?
When Brigid Mary declares her intent to join the Daughters of Charity, her mother declares she will only consent if God had come to speak to her.
“I came to him,” Brigid Mary said. “And that’s the next best thing.”
However, later in the play, a sister challenges Brigid Mary in this belief.
“You think you chose God?” the sister asks.
Brigid Mary wrestles with many of the same questions as believers who are not nuns or priests. Throughout the play, she struggles with the fact that she has never audibly heard God speak to her.
“If the voice isn’t saying ‘No,’ maybe it is saying ‘Yes’ silently,” a fellow sister tells Brigid Mary.
“Little Moon of Alban” will be showing in the Black Box through Nov. 20. Tickets are available on Liberty’s website.
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