Dorothy Day's Activism Explored in Acacia Theatre's 'This Other Love'
“I love a God I can’t see,” exclaims an anguished, young Dorothy Day, years before she would go on to co-found the Catholic Workers Movement in 1933 along with Paul Maurin. In This Other Love, written by former Milwaukeean Patty McCarty and staged for the first time by Acacia Theatre Company, Day is torn between human love (physical love for her common-law husband, anarchist Forster Batterham) and spiritual love (emotional love for God). Which will she choose?
Based on real events, This Other Love combines key moments from Day’s life on one day in August 1927. Day learns she is pregnant, meets Maurin and yearns to rekindle her Catholic faith—all to her husband’s very vocal displeasure. The Catholic Workers Movement (CWM) preached a simple lifestyle of “voluntary poverty” while resisting war and social injustice. This Other Love dramatizes the underpinnings of the CWM and how Day came to be one of the most influential activists of the 20th century.
McCarty’s play spills over with ideas, and her writing holds up—due in large part to the stellar performance of the lead role played by Susie Duecker. Duecker manages to capture the insecurities of a young woman who has already seen plenty of life at age 30, while she deftly balances the need to be more than wife and mother; we sense her turmoil and need to try to please everyone.
The other cast members strengthen the synergy onstage: Ken T. Williams as the rebellious Forster, Maura Atwood as an imaginary daughter all grown up and Jason Will as the persistent and encouraging Maurin.
By play’s end, Day realizes she can only answer to herself and her own calling. There are no easy choices in This Other Love. Just a final choice made to the different calls to love.
Through July 23 at Concordia University’s Todd Wehr Auditorium, 12800 N. Lake Shore Drive, Mequon. For tickets, call 414-744-5995 or visit acaciatheatre.com.