AGNES OF GOD, Synergy Therapy Theatre Company, at Irving Park United Methodist Church. Agnes is a young nun who’s purportedly carried a child to term, then murdered it–with no apparent recollection of doing so. Is this scandal rooted in biological aberration or divine intervention? Is the perpetrator a disturbed adolescent looking for spiritual rationales for her behavior or a holy mystic whose visions are manifested in dubious ways? Or is this eager-to-please waif being manipulated by the convent’s strong-minded mother superior and the equally formidable court-appointed psychiatrist, both of whom have their own agendas?

By the play’s end we have an answer but are no closer to the truth: playwright John Pielmeier is less concerned with whodunit than with exploring the boundaries of science and faith. And fortunately Synergy Therapy director AnnMarie Kneebone makes these cerebral conflicts immediate, coherent, and surprisingly physical. So do Kelly Cronin as the sister and Roxanne Fay as the shrink, revealing intense conviction but never losing control of their passion as they battle for their beliefs. Michelle Goltzman’s Agnes is just spunky enough to make us wonder if she truly is what her protectors think. Together the director and actors render Pielmeier’s journey through the mysteries of the sacred and profane vigorous, thought provoking, and thoroughly enjoyable.

–Mary Shen Barnidge