February 24, 2005

The church scandal in a family spat



February 24, 2005

A HOUSE DIVIDED. By Sean David Bennett. Arena Players, 296 Rte. 109, East Farmingdale, through March 13. Tickets $16-$22, call 516-293-0674. Seen opening night, Feb. 17.

If it's all in the timing, Sean David Bennett's "A House Divided" may be blessed. Two days before the world premiere of this damning indictment of the Catholic church's handling of its sexual-abuse scandal, defrocked priest Paul Shanley was sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison for child rape, and indecent assault and battery.

At Arena Players, Frederic De Feis stages the new play with the confidence of a director who knows the script speaks powerfully for itself. Bennett, recipient of the 2004 Edward Albee Playwriting Fellowship, is playwright-in-residence at Washington, D.C.'s Journeymen Theatre Ensemble. Among his recent plays are "George W. Bush - The Musical" and "An American Fall," about Adlai Stevenson and Joseph McCarthy.

The Long Island family at the center of "A House Divided" comes together for an ostensibly happy occasion. But by the time Molly sings "Happy Birthday" to her husband, Thomas, the party lies in the ruins of an uncut cake. Molly and Thomas' sons and their daughter-in-law all split before the candles are lit.

Posted by kshaw at February 24, 2005 07:30 AM