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Tuesday, 28 September 2010 22:16

Off-Broadway Review: THE DIVINE SISTER

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Julie Halston, Charles Busch and Jennifer Van Dyck (l-r)  in THE DIVINE SISTER Julie Halston, Charles Busch and Jennifer Van Dyck (l-r) in THE DIVINE SISTER Photo: David Rodgers
Charles Busch is up to his old antics again.  This time the creator of such classic hits as Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, The Lady in Question, Red Scare on Sunset and probably his most mainstream and commercial success, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife has taken on a new habit.  No I mean it, a habit. In The Divine Sister Busch does send ups of some of Hollywood’s most memorable nun movies, including: “The Song of Bernadette,” “The Bells of St. Mary's,” “The Singing Nun,” “Agnes of God,” “Doubt” and many more.  Along for the ride is a high-octane cast that will have you in stitches.
Busch is the Mother Superior of St. Veronica’s Catholic church and school which she is trying to save as it crumbles around her.  Amy Rutberg is the slightly-off postulate, Agnes, who hears heavenly voices, possesses powers of healing and thinks she sees the figure of St. Clare in the piss stains of the boys underwear.  Alison Fraser stars in two outrageous roles, Sister Walburgra from the Mother House in Berlin and the hilarious Mrs. Macduffie, an Irish cleaning lady.  Julie Halston is over-the-top as Sister Acacius, the Mistress of Novices and wrestling coach.  And Jennifer Van Dyck shows how far she can stretch as both Mrs. Levinson, the local well-off atheist who the Mother Superior reaches out to to help keep the school afloat, and Timmy, one of the schools pre-teen boys.  Jonathan Walker is the cock-sure reporter who used to be Susan’s (that’s the Reverend Mother’s real first name) love interest/competition back when they were reporters covering the same beat for competing publications.

Director Carl Andress has done an excellent job of keeping the pace of the show up to the pace of Busch’s pithy script.  The laughs start early and they just keep coming.  The scenic design by B.T. Whitehall is perfect with its four stained glass windows, each featuring one of the four seasons (not the singing group).  The costume design by Fabio Toblini is great fun, particularly Acacius’s long red underwear and Busch’s turn as Susan.  

Charles Busch is master of the laugh with his turn of the head and purse of the lips.  Julie Halston is outrageously funny as the nun who can’t seem to understand what Reverend Mother means when she says “What is it you can’t face?”  Think about it... think about it... good, you got it.  This turns into a running joke that’s good for another two to three laughs easily.  Alison Fraser as Sister Walburga is absolutely demented.  Part of what makes her so funny is also a slight problem at times, you can’t understand her through her uptight German accent.  Small matter, she’s hilarious.  

The Divine Sister is a divine diversion for difficult times, thank you Mr. Busch. 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 22:49