Review by Andrea Carpenter
Living with terminal cancer is always going to be a test of faith but for Shelia Gold, the lead character in Apostasy, it prompts a possible conversion from Judaism to Christianity.
This may be an unlikely last minute switch but Sheila, a successful business woman at the end of her life, is making a final attempt at fulfillment and has convinced herself it will come from the evangelist beaming into her hospice room from the TV screen. Dr Julius Strong is easily lured from his church in California to New York by the promise of a sizeable donation from Sheila. All that stands in his way is Sheilaï¿½s daughter, Rachel, who faces her final chance to not be a disappointment to her mother.
With Apostasy meaning the renunciation of faith, Gino Dilorioï¿½s play sets itself up to be about religion. But religion quickly fades as the dominant theme. Instead, it explores how a woman facing her own morality tries to fill the gaps in her life and how in trying to help those around her confuse this with their own selfish needs.
Susan Greenhillï¿½s strong performance as Shelia is key as she delivers an appropriately complex Sheila. With Rachel she eases into the routine of the Jewish mother-daughter relationship, focusing on her disappointment over Rachelï¿½s career choices and the lack of a husband. But with Julius, she is re-energised and renewed but still leaves us questioning whether her vulnerability is allowing her to play or be played by Juliusï¿½ interest.
Susan Louise Oï¿½Connor and Harold Surratt as Rachel and Julius also provide able support to Sheila. Rachelï¿½s performance is restrained and tolerant, reflecting a lifetime of never pleasing her mother. Julius sweeps in and charms but later begins to carefully drop his guard again leaving enough room for the audience to still question his motives.
Dilorio is building up an award-winning portfolio of plays. The Hard Way won first place in the BBCï¿½s 2005 International Playwriting Competition, and he has also received accolades for Winterizing the Summer House and White Noise.
This plays shows a talent for revealing the complexity of characters and motivations in this unusual three-way grouping. The plot does speed up to a pace that makes events less believable in act two but Dilorioï¿½s play holds interest as it explores the vulnerability of this dying woman but also the vulnerability of those around her in trying to seek their own needs.