Irish-Catholic family comedy fills the Loft Theatre with laughter


DAYTON — The Human Race Theatre Company continues its 35th Season with a new play by Seattle playwright Katie Forgette, titled “Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help,” playing April 14 through May 1 at the Loft Theatre.

The comedy recounts an unforgettable day in 1973 for the O‘Shea’s, a cash-strapped Irish-Catholic family in a city very much like Dayton.

Nineteen year-old Linda O’Shea, the show’s narrator, attempts to re-enact the most turbulent day of her life, interrupted by her family with their side of the story. The 70’s were a time of old school living — no social media, and public ridicule in a close-knit community was the ultimate nightmare. Linda reflects on an “incident” she sparked in 1973, when their overbearing priest, Father Lovett, overhears a conversation between her and her sister about puberty. It’s a moment that could have threatened the family’s upstanding reputation in the conservative parish. As Linda says, this is a story familiar to anyone who has experienced “Catholic guilt — also known as Jewish guilt, Methodist guilt, Baptist guilt, Lutheran guilt and atheist guilt.” When Father Lovett confronts her parents about the “corruption of their eldest daughter’s very soul,” all holy hell and hysteria break loose.

New York-based director Margarett Perry returns to helm this new play. She most recently directed the streaming comedy “The Revolutionists” last June, and numerous productions since 2005.

“Margarett has become a regular member of our artistic family with many great comedies and dramas to her credit,” Artistic Director Kevin Moore said. “She was hand-selected by Marsha Hanna and she has delivered great productions time after time.”

The cast that will bring this show to life includes both new and returning artists: Cecily Dowd will play the narrator, Linda O’Shea (Dayton native, One Slight Hitch); Christine Brunner plays the long-suffering, rarely-complaining, hardworking mom Josephine “Jo” ‘Shea (Resident Artist, 26 Pebbles, Steel Magnolias, Play It By Heart); Mierka Girten plays the very liberal Aunt Theresa “Terri” O’Shea (Master Class, Beehive, Little Shop of Horrors, Bus Stop); Jason Podplesky is in multiple roles as Dad, Mike ‘Shea, Father Lovett, and parish busybody Betty Hackenbach (Sylvia, 26 Pebbles, Becky’s New Car); and Columbus native Lizzie Huelskamp makes her Human Race debut as younger sister, Becky O‘Shea (Annie, Little Mermaid, The Secret Garden).

Joining Director Margarett Perry on “Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help” creative team is: Eric Moore, Scenic Designer; John Rensel, Lighting Designer; Janet G. Powell, Costume Designer; Julian Crocamo, Sound Designer; and Production Stage Manager, Jacquelyn Duncan.

“Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help” will play in the Loft Theatre in downtown Dayton, April 14 through May 1. Tickets are on sale through Dayton Live box office, 937-228-3630, or online at www.humanracetheatre.org. More details about the show can be found on the Human Race Theatre’s website.