Playwright Charles Busch has made a name for himself since the 1970s as a playwright, novelist, and screenwriter, most often exploring the fusion of his works and androgyny. Busch has played the leading lady in many of his works, and has recently seen one of his works make it to Broadway. From January 18 through February 2, The Divine Sister has made it to Raleigh Little Theatre. Unfortunately, with a mere suggestion of a plotline and a patchwork of bit gags good for a laugh, this particular work of Busch’s is less than a riot. Paying homage to nun shows like The Sound of Music and Doubt, in The Divine Sister the sisters of St. Veronica’s Convent School for Children work to find a new building for their work. Chaos ensues when the pasts of Mother Superior and Sister Acacius become entwined with those of their potential patron Mrs. Levinson and Hollywood agent Jeremy.
The plucky cast and crew of Actors Comedy Lab and Raleigh Little Theatre did their best with the hand they were dealt. Director Rod Rich led his cast of six headfirst into the style of farce. The stage was set with recordings of the lovely vocal stylings of RLT’s talented female vocalists, which were heard throughout the performance. Lexi Levy was convincing portraying the both heavenly and hellish postulant Agnes; Alison Lawrence committed to the mania of Sister Acacius; Scott Nagel, Amy Bossi Nasiatka, and Christine Rogers exercised great versatility playing multiple and very different roles; and Tony Hefner donned his habit and lipstick with grace as Mother Superior. John Maruca’s sound design was clever and well timed to the script, adding a critical component to the comedy of farce. This was, however, probably the subtlest aspect of the show. With copious overt sexual references, adult content, and VERY adult language, the company would do well to include a disclaimer on their advertisements: it may be set in a convent, but this is certainly not a family show.
As long as you haven’t brought your children along, The Divine Sister certainly has its moments. With great comedic minds, crisp timing, silly accents, and while having tons of fun, the cast at RLT makes the most of them. Saturday’s performance was met with a standing ovation. So, if you have a couple bucks and are in the mood for some bawdy laughs, check out The Divine Sister. Otherwise, see what else the Raleigh theatre scene has to offer and come back for Raleigh Little Theatre’s February show, Caroline, or Change.
The Divine Sister continues through February 2. For more information on this production, please view the sidebar.