Farce well done but needs polish
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 27, 2012 06:00 am
The Nun’s Trail
St. Albert Theatre Troupe
Oct. 27, Nov. 1 to 3 and Nov. 8 to 10
Kinsmen Korral Hall
The Nun’s Trail, the season opener for the St. Albert Theatre Troupe now playing at the Kinsmen Korral, completely throws any pretence of highbrow art out the window.
It’s a broad farce loaded with mistaken identities, double takes and punch lines that hit you with the force of a ham hock. But by the end, the dinner theatre production leaves you with a full stomach, a smile on your face and a warm, mellow feeling.
Written by British playwright David Barrett, it follows two goofy prisoners who escape their confines through a secret passage under a toilet in their cell only to discover the trail ends in a nunnery.
On the hunt for an elusive black diamond that disappeared during a heist five years ago, they grab a couple of habits and disguise themselves as visiting nuns. Harry (Trevor Lawless), the slightly brighter criminal, morphs into Sister Harriet while his sidekick Fingers (Julian Stamer) is rebranded as Sister Phalanges. The switcheroo brought back memories of Robbie Coltrane and Eric Idle in the film Nuns on the Run and Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act.
This two-act broad comedy delivers more than a few good chuckles and guffaws. But there is also a good share of groaners such as when the dim bulb Sister Phalanges mistakes the Latin chant Gloria in Excelsis Deo for Harry Belafonte’s 1956 Banana Boat Song (Day O).
While the script shoots off in multiple directions, the one thread holding everything together is the disappearance of the Star of Nepal diamond. Quickly you realize no one is who he or she pretends to be.
Barrett’s characters are two-dimensional, leaning towards typical stereotypes, but this dynamic cast gives it their all.
There is Rita Jensen’s naive Sister Michael, the genteel nun razoring her hairy legs and Katie Elliott’s sexy Sister Chastity wearing a belly ring and sporting a swivel-hip walk.
Bob Locicero’s randy cook Angus drew a few good laughs, sneaking kisses from the nuns and Joanne Poplett, the eavesdropping maid, certainly sparked attention.
The soft-spoken Sheldan Ishaq as the suspicious Sister Cosanostri wearing bright blue eye shadow and red lipstick attracted more than a few glares. Without even saying a word, all he did was stroll into a room and the vibe changed.
Melanie Ignace’s bossy Mother Superior, the self-proclaimed Bride of Christ, plays a secondary, but pivotal role in the production. Unfortunately she comes blasting on the stage in a screeching voice and never lets up. Less is more in this case.
Farce is tough to nail down, especially when the characters are two-dimensional. To compound the difficulty, director Mark McGarrigle chose to keep the setting in England. As a result, all the actors slip in and out of numerous English, Scottish, Irish and Canadian accents.
While the production might need a bit of tightening and polish, it is ultimately light-hearted fun that warms the heart.