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Theater Review: Faithless

Death sparks a reshuffling of family affections and questions about religion in Faithless, a world premiere from Jon Klein, Victory Theatre Center’s playwright-in-residence. A thoughtful and thought-provoking family drama, Faithless brings its audience along right up until a surprising and not quite credible ending.

Melissa Ortiz, Josee Gourdine and Jon Sprik in Faithless. Photo by Tim Sullen.

A mother, Carolyn, has just died. Her two brittle adult children, childless divorcée Claire (Melissa Ortiz) and Calvin (Jon Sprik), a bachelor and Presbyterian minister, are eager to advise their stepfather on what happens next (spoiler alert, it involves a move to assisted living). Gus (John Idakitis) brushes off their unsought advice to focus attention on his adopted daughter, their 16-year-old stepsister Rosie (Joseé Guardine).

Gus asks his stepchildren to participate in an intervention to convince Rosie to see that her current trajectory will lead to a much-diminished future. That trajectory does not involve drugs, alcohol, sex or a life of crime. No, it involves a religious commitment.

“If only she was pregnant.”

Gus, a devout atheist, is horrified by Rosie’s stated devotion. He calls religion “crutches for people who are afraid to die” and says he believes only in science and actuarial tables. His stepchildren have their own takes, especially after two brushes with death up the stakes. Further complicating matters is a revelation about Carolyn’s possible cause of death.

Josee Gourdine, John Idakitis and Jon Sprik in Faithless. Photo by Tim Sullen.

The layers of religious commitment and rejection—sometimes by the same individual—mostly feel thoughtful and nuanced. Death and near-death experiences legitimately affect religious fervor. However, the play’s final moments include a conversion that feels both abrupt and unlikely.

Faithless is beautifully directed by Victory’s Artistic Director, Maria Gobetti, a bittersweet challenge since Klein wrote the role of Gus for her husband, actor and Victory co-Artistic Director Tom Ormeny. Ormeny died last year and this production is dedicated to his memory.

Faithless runs through April 14 at Victory Theatre Center, 3326 W. Victory Blvd. in Burbank. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 4:00 pm. Tickets are $28 for general admission, $38 for preferred seating, and can be purchased here.

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Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Theatre West.

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