Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

The story at the center of Custody of the Eyes is more complicated than the usual priest-diddles-little-boy routine. Anthony Giardina's play — which is making its world premiere at the Cleveland Play House — questions faith, humanity, and the line between them. "Everybody is testing somebody," says director Michael Butler. "Friends test friends, people test their own relationship with God — it's an interesting concentric circle of people needing things from each other."

As the play opens, a bishop and cleric are investigating Edmond, a young priest accused of sleeping with Sheila, a female parishioner. Custody of the Eyes unfolds as a mystery, chronicling a knotty relationship that begins when Sheila brings her 11-year-old son, who has a rare brain disease, to Edmond for communion. "We know something has happened," says Butler. "But something went wrong, and we get it in tantalizing little bits."

Playwright Giardina — a noted short-story and essay writer whose work has appeared in Esquire and Harper's — doesn't fall back on easy stereotypes. The priest isn't merely a flawed man of the cloth who questions his devotion when the secular world flashes its breasts. And the mother isn't just a temptress out to steal a conflicted soul from his church. "These are small, intense, and very real events going on between these people," says Butler. "But there are also big ideas [in the play]. You don't want to stomp on either of them."

Custody of the Eyes has never played onstage before. Butler says the challenges in staging it for the first time can be both exhilarating and frightening. "I read the play a hundred times to figure out how to do it," he says. He gives props to the cast, including Joseph Collins — just off Broadway's The Glass Menagerie — as the conflicted priest.

However, it's Giardina's words that inspired Butler most during preproduction. "People will be talking about this one," he says. "It's a thinking man's Thorn Birds."
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., May 11, 1:30 p.m. Starts: April 28. Continues through May 21

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Speaking of Highlights

More by Michael Gallucci

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 9, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation