ADA — Few social subjects inspire as much intrigue in American society as the ongoing tension between the religious and secular worlds. Debates over intelligent design, stem cell research, and even the pledge of allegiance raise questions that ask us to ponder the roles of spiritual faith and secular skepticism.

This week, Ada’s Cross Timbers Theatre Company explores this exciting topic by presenting John Pielmeier's award-winning contemporary mystery, “Agnes of God,” April 27-29 at East Central University’s Faust Auditorium.

Sister Agnes is a devout, innocent young nun accused of a terrible crime. In the wake of that crime, a battle of will and belief develops between a psychiatrist, herself a lapsed Catholic, and Agnes' Mother Superior. The result is an inspired drama that respects the views of both characters and encourages the audience to form their own opinions.

Alan Marshall, director of music at Barnard Memorial United Methodist Church in Holdenville and a highly-trained theatrical talent, directs this riveting story. “The play asks questions about faith and skepticism and is very fair to both sides,” Marshall says. “The drama also allows the audience to draw their own conclusions about the debate and this situation.”

Dr. Melody Baggech plays Dr. Martha Livinstone, a psychiatrist with an uneasy religious past who is determined to cast the light of reason on a troubled situation. Opera Director and an Assistant Professor of Voice at ECU, Baggech played the demanding lead role in Cross Timbers’ production of “Molly Sweeney.”

Cathlena Spencer Boyd makes her Cross Timbers’ debut in the role of Mother Miriam Ruth. Boyd, an ECU graduate, has recently returned to Ada, where she previously starred in productions of “The Lion in Winter” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Cross Timbers is excited to bring her talents back to the Ada stage.

The challenging role of Agnes is played by Abby Marks, artistic director of Cross Timbers. Marks has excelled in intense productions, revealing her diverse talents in “The Crucible,” “Proof,” and “Playboy of the Western World.”

As with previous Cross Timbers’ productions, “Agnes of God” downplays spectacle, preferring to cast the spotlight on the story and the actors. “We seek plays that challenge our actors,” Marshall observes. “And this play fits that bill beautifully. It is simply staged in order to showcase three moving performances.”

The language and content of the show are intense but contained within a PG-13 rating. Churches and other groups are welcome, and a discount rate will be negotiated for parties of ten or more. The show runs Thursday through Saturday nights at 8 p.m. A 2 p.m. Saturday matinee is also offered. For more information and reservations, phone 320-2129.