Milan Stitt Edwin Wilson - Essay

Edwin Wilson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In "The Runner Stumbles"] Mr. Stitt has fashioned his material well. It is a mystery story as well as a psychological and moral study. In a series of flashbacks the play moves expertly back and forth from courtroom scenes at the trial of the priest to events from the past. Individual scenes are highly effective, especially those among the three principals—the priest, the nun and the housekeeper—and the climactic scene of revelation between Father Rivard and Sister Rita is a model of what books on dramatic structure call the "obligatory scene."

The play is not flawless: the character of both the priest and the nun are a bit ambiguous and it takes them longer than necessary to discover their problem, but by and large the play is forceful and at its high points, electrifying. It combines a concern with humanity with a searching look at moral problems, and proves by its effect on today's audiences that questions of love versus the strictures of society or religion are not confined to the past or to one particular faith. (p. 239)

Edwin Wilson, "A Moral Dilemma in a Parish House," in The Wall Street Journal (reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal; © Dow Jones & Company, Inc. 1976, all rights reserved), May 25, 1976 (and reprinted in New York Theatre Critics' Reviews, Vol. 37, No. 13, June 7, 1976, pp. 239-40).