We’ve come a long way since the Boston premiere of Christopher Durang’s SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU. You may remember that the Catholic Church dispatched picketers to protest Durang’s “scathing” portrait of nuns and cried “sacrilege” in their Sunday sermons. They had no idea what scathing satire would be in store for the church. Enter a million productions of NUNSENSE and now THE DIVINE SISTER (not to mention countless serious works skewered in SISTER).
The music is awfully loud. The humor is awfully raw. The story is over ze top, wiz a German hit nun stalking an unsuspecting mother superior. It could only be Charles Busch’s THE DIVINE SISTER (at SpeakEasy Stage Company through Nov. 19th).
Aside from the lame jokes and religious potshots, what THE DIVINE SISTER has going for it is the fabulous Varla Jean Merman (aka Jeffery Roberson) in the superior role. The plot is merely there so Varla Jean can slay us with her delectable double entendre and seductive, lingering double takes. When it’s funny, it kills. When it isn’t (during set-ups for more plot twists), you’re anticipating the next gag (please take that literally) and wishing there were more shenanigans for director Larry Coen’s hilarious cast.
I could tell you why Sister Acacius (Paula Plum) melts down like a demented movie star or why Sister Walburga (Kathy St. George) is gunning for Mother Superior or why Mrs. Levinson (Ellen Colton) abhors nuns. “I could,”…as Mother Superior famously demurs, “But I won’t!”