Confessions of a Catholic Child uses humor to confront religion

Talynn Soghomonians

It’s almost judgment day and true to the Catholic faith, sins have to be forgiven in order to enter the pearly gates of Heaven. Yet, this is much easier said than done-especially when time is limited.

In Elizabeth Appell’s production “Confessions of a Catholic Child,” 70-something-year-old Regina (Sandra Lafferty) is cancer-stricken and ready as ever to leave this world behind. But before she takes her last breath on her last day, she is visited by a tiara-wearing homecoming queen-spirit (Kimberly Atkinson) who represents Regina in her teen years. In an attempt to guarantee elderly Regina a place in Heaven, the flirty and witty spirit forces her counterpart to ask for forgiveness from her daughter Kate (Heidi Mages), her ex-husband William (Paul Stroili), her parents (Mages and Stroili), her aborted child (Megan McNulty) and even the Pope (Stroili) himself.

The journey through Regina’s life proves to be both humorous and heartbreaking as she encounters people from her past and desperately tries to secure a good standing with God.

The most distressing part of the play is when Regina confronts her father about the sexual advance he made toward her when she was young. Since her parents are in denial about the incident and her father is unwilling to offer an apology, the viewer cannot help but feel sorry for Regina. It is easy to see that Regina’s character is a woman who has endured a lot of issues throughout her life and is still coping with these issues in her old age.

Another difficult confrontation for Regina is the one with her ex-husband. Right away, it is obvious that her marriage with William lacked trust and communication. Regina questions his fidelity and eventually confesses that she cheated on him and starts to beg for his forgiveness. She is no longer consumed by anger and hate. There is real sincerity in the conversation between these two characters because Regina’s focus is to find closure and to heal.

Although Regina deals with the Catholic religion in great skepticism (she cannot remember the words to the Catholic prayers), she is still determined to be in the Pope’s good graces. However, the Pope in this production is nothing but a joke. He drinks glasses of bourbon and takes pleasure in spraying anti-bacterial spray on his coveted ring.

The Pope’s funny character is definitely reason enough to see this play. As a Pope, he is unable to perform any kind of religious service for Regina. He offers her no forgiveness and is unable to “wipe the board clean.” In his drunken state, the Pope tells Regina to stop seeking forgiveness from other people and to start taking responsibility.

The beauty of this play is that religion, specifically Catholicism, is mocked in extremely clever ways but nonetheless the religion serves as an absolute necessity for the character in her time of hopelessness. Whenever Regina is frustrated and helpless, she remembers her Catholic faith and searches her desk drawer for her missing rosary.

“Faith is always there when I need it,” Regina says.

Repeatedly, Regina is forced to face and accept the decisions she has made in the past including her decision to abort her unborn child she conceived with her lover. In an emotional scene, Regina explains to the child that she had no other choice but to get rid of her. She consoles the child by telling her that she was conceived through love.

The last person Regina must confront is her busy daughter Kate. Regina is not the “rough around the edges” old woman she was in the beginning of the play and longs for Kate’s love more than ever. The relationship between the mother and daughter is important because it is the last in Regina’s passage.

The different scene Regina has with each character is special and necessary in its own way. “Confessions of a Catholic Child,” is more than a story about an elderly woman awaiting her death. It’s a story of taking responsibility as well as finding peace with the imperfections and mistakes in life.

“Confessions of a Catholic Child” will play at the Deaf West Theatre in North Hollywood at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays until Sept. 23. For reservations and ticket information, call 323-663-0112.