Bill Sterritt’s spare three-character play, set in France in 1095 A.D., centers on the machinations within the papacy in the period just before The Crusades. Pope Urban II (Matt Haught) and The Cardinal (Aaron Preston Crothers) are discussing an impending papal dictum when The Cardinal suggests that the Pope’s speech be reviewed by the local Censor (Chris Pauley). The Pope, believing that he is “cloaked in infallibility,” is aghast at the suggestion, but concedes in order to win the support of the peasants he will send into battle. The Censor, despite his humble origins, defies the Pope when The Cardinal forces his hand, resulting in a powerful theological debate on the justification for Holy War. As the Censor grows bolder, we see that this peasant is more honorable and true to his faith than either man of the cloth. While the play initially gets bogged down in its ecclesiastical verbiage, and the parallels to Bush and Cheney are a bit heavy-handed, once the Censor enters the picture, the words come to life and the drama unfolds. Sterritt’s direction paces the dialogue a bit too quickly at first, but the actors eventually slow down, ramping up the tension and the menace within a compact play that runs just under an hour.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Oct. 11. Continues through Nov. 2, 2008

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