Heaven help us if the wonderfully comedic Charles Busch ever decides not to don a dress or in this case a nun’s habit and stop writing ridiculously plotted comedies with zany over the top characters. I mean over, over the top. Beyond over the top as he has in “The Divine Sister” now running amok at the SoHo Playhouse where the laughs are plentiful irreverent and hearty.
Carl Andress has directed this team of expert comics to not pull back any punches and to punctuate each punch line with a gesture or a grimace just in case we missed it the first time around. It’s great fun and the audience laps it all up like a milk starved pussycat enjoying the cast enjoying performing this insanity.
The beleaguered, guitar strumming, bicycle riding Mother Superior (Charles Busch) of St. Veronica’s is trying to save the Parrish from closing, while having to deal with a tight lipped Germanic Sister Walburga (Alison Fraser) who is not what she seems to be and has an eye or two on Sister Acacius, the wrestling coach (Julie Halston), while the Novice Agnes (wide eyed Amy Rutberg) has visions and hears voices and has the power to heal and join in a sing-a-long while Jeremy (Jonathan Walker or was that Steve Martin up on that stage?) is trying to meet Agnes to make a film of her life. He just so happens to be staying with Mrs. Levinson (Jennifer Van Dyck) who has enough money to save the church only she’s an atheist and the plot twists and turns until all the true relationships are exposed.
Alison Fraser does double duty as Mrs. Macduffie. She is absolutely hysterical in her description of working for Mrs. Levinson with her drooping breasts courtesy of costume designer Fabio Toblini who has done a great job clothing the cast. Wig design by Katherine Carr should win some sort of an award for quick transitions.
Jennifer Van Dyck will have you checking your program with her unimaginable change from Mrs. Levinson to Timothy – a young boy trying to play baseball despite his being bullied. She is giving a stand out performance where it is almost impossible to stand out due to the high caliber of talent surrounding and supporting her.
There are references to many of the cinematic nuns of yore. Flashbacks and flatulence. A DaVinci like code to decipher. A description of Jeremy’s larger than life penis. Soiled BVDs. Visual jokes and jokes about orphans and Jews with much cavorting and kicking and last but not least God.
It’s a ninety minute miracle of unadulterated, uncensored craziness.
www.DivineSisterOnStage.com Photo: David Rodgers