Sleuthing saints return to the Hall
Audiences were treated to several excellent performances last weekend as the Celtic Theater Company came together in the theater in the round for the fifth annual Saints & Sleuths program. Hosted by the Center for Catholic Studies and the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture, Saints & Sleuths is a collection of dramatic readings adapted by John Dandola and Dr. James McGlone and performed by the distinguished members of the Celtic Theater Company.
The Saints & Sleuths program began on the evening of Jan. 21 with a dramatic reading of three detective stories written by G.K. Chesterton and adapted by John Dandola. Of his selection of the Father Brown tales for adaptation in a note to the audience, Dandola writes, “When it came time to decide on what stories we would adapt into performance pieces for this year’s Saints and Sleuths, the inescapable eight-hundred-pound cleric in the room was the character of Father Brown, who is celebrating his one-hundredth anniversary.”
The audience had much to celebrate themselves with this year’s selection, as the Father Brown stories are much loved, and were indeed one of the best of the performed pieces of the Saints & Sleuths program. The performance, titled “The Observations of Father Brown,” proved to be both lighthearted and serious, poking fun at Sherlock Holmes in one story while, in another, acknowledging that not every villain can be captured.
Despite the fact that Father Brown could do nothing to capture the villain in the final story, Dr. Dermot Quinn argued that he is still a better detective than Sherlock Holmes.
Dr. Quinn stated his position in the commentary following this first dramatic reading, a discussion comparing the two detectives: “Holmes is only brilliant because he is mediated to us by Watson. Watson is in awe of Holmes. He tells us, ‘You should be in awe of this man as well’, whereas Father Brown comes to us unmediated. He is simply Father Brown and he is doing the working out of the problem.”
Dr. Quinn continues to point out that Watson is in awe of Holmes because he has a tendency to get lucky in his cases, while Father Brown, on the other hand, experiences no such luck himself but manages to solve his cases using only his astute observations.
Equally entertaining performances followed the first, with the Celtic Theater Company’s reading of “Mr. Blue,” adapted and directed by Dr. James McGlone, and “Trabolgan Abbey,” a radio play based on the short stories of Reverend P.A. Sheenan and adapted by John Dandola.
Each was followed by commentary presented by guest speakers Dr. Dermot Quinn, Father Ian Boyd and others. What was by far the most impressive performance of all of these however, “Observations” included, was Professor Daniel Yates’ performance in “Viper’s Tangle.”
Yates brought to life the character of a man in deep emotional pain, suffering through the loss of his daughter—the one person on earth that he believed truly loved him—and the growing separation of him and his wife over the death, as well as other misunderstandings throughout their marriage.
Yates’ portrayal of Louis is so starkly realistic, the acute pain that he feels so accurately presented, that his performance could be said to be truly stunning. Viper’s Tangle was above all the most moving and memorable of all of the performances of the Saints & Sleuths program, and one can only look forward to next years’ presentation.
Andrea Aguirre can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org