Only in the most fanatical believers do the twin monoliths of faith and religious doctrine always stand in unison and not occasionally at loggerheads. As anyone who has been caught between the two can attest, from Martin Luther on down, when the message of one's heart and of one's church disagree, the spiritual pain can be excruciatingly acute. The greatest accomplishment of William S. Leavengood's ruminative new drama, Little Mary, is that it manages to translate that friction undiminished across religious and denominational divides. For the politically progressive Archbishop Tivoli (the wonderful Ron Orbach), head of a small Catholic mission situated in the desert some 60 miles east of Los Angeles, this friction is more painful than most. He has taken as his cause overpopulation and the ever-increasing strain it places on the planet's resources. Birth rate reduction, however, is not exactly in accord with the divine command to be fruitful and multiply.
This is made abundantly clear with the arrival of Tivoli's mentor, the kindly Cardinal Gian (Jeremy Lawrence), who admits he has been dispatched from Rome to either dissuade Tivoli from preaching the subject or, failing that, to have the archbishop excommunicated. However, such censorial considerations are quickly supplanted by the announcement that Tivoli's 15-year-old star pupil, Christina (Monica Raymund), is pregnant, that she is still a virgin, that God is the father, and that she carries not one but seven unborn saviors. The message that Christina says the children represent, told to her through dreams, sends shockwaves that stir even the powerful College of Cardinals in Rome.
Leavengood wisely mirrors the New Testament only once or twice, and then only faintly. (The most blatant instance that I noticed was when Tivoli's assistant, Mother Lulit, played by Robyn Hatcher, tries to cull the "truth" from Christina