Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Agnes abd mother superior 

Bethany Grainger as Agnes and Laura Pearson as Mother Miriam Ruth

Agnes of God

The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


The Nonentities are a company blessed with some excellent performers. Their studio productions continue to be a fine example of the talent on offer, with an opportunity to experience their ability close up.

Of course you need the right play for this kind of theatre and John Pielmeier's 1979 philosophical drama, Agnes of God, is the perfect choice .This three hander play is packed with questions and mystery that revolves around the premise of a young nun who is accused of murdering her baby.

Under the protective shield of her convent, she is questioned by a psychiatrist. Is this a miracle, a murder or a delusional episode? While Agnes, the nun in question, claims she has no memory or knowledge of the event, her Mother Superior suggests that it is an immaculate conception and an act of god.

It would be quite easy to get this play wrong but director Louise Fullwell has managed to create a very powerful and engaging atmosphere with touches of chilling mild horror. 

Dr Martha Livingstone is the legally appointed psychiatrist, and played very well by Rebecca Wilbrooke. Livingstone is a non-believer, troubled by her own past demons around the catholic faith. It’s her past that sometimes clouds her judgement as she struggles to find the truth between miracle and murder.

Agnes and Doc 

Agnes with psychiatrist Dr Martha Livingstone played by Rebecca Wilbrooke

A psychological battle begins between Dr Livingstone and Mother Miriam Ruth as they debate fact and faith. Miriam Ruth is played by Laura Pearson and was excellent as the fierce protector of her beliefs and the church. It was superb to see her act out her character at close quarters and her commitment to her performance was emotional as she agonises over Agnes’s mental and spiritual health.

Bethany Grainger took on the intense role of Agnes, the centre of the tragedy. She showed great range in her schizophrenic type character. At one time she is the sweet, innocent woman. The next she’s unhinged, tormented and overwhelmed. Is she lying about her actions, is she delusional?

The most compelling scenes are when she is subjected to hypnotherapy and with the addition of some stark lighting and an ominous undertone of a soundtrack; Agnes reveals a childhood filled with ignorance and physical abuse. It’s pivotal in the drama as the truth eventually clarifies the act but challenges the hypocrisy of blind faith and the church.

There is very little set to speak of, just a bench and that’s it. However the nuns in their full black and white habits make up any lack of visual content making a striking impression in the tiny theatre space.

Director Louise Fullwell made the early decision to stage the play in the round.  While this works, there is a disappointment at times when critical parts of the play are viewed completely at the backs of the performers. This disappointment is only there because the actors are so good and its pot luck from an audience perspective what you might miss. The nuns full outfits means you practically only get to see their faces and at times I would have liked the choice to see that.

Overall though, this does not distract from the quality of this intense production. The choice of play equally serves the talent the company has at their disposal and the intimacy of the studio theatre.  With the potential of reduced set costs and smaller cast numbers,  this kind of thought provoking adult theatre , should  be something that they should do more of .We can only pray. To 11-11-23.

Jeff Grant


The Nonentities

Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate