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Theatre Review: The Divine Sister

Cassandra Zahran Cassandra Zahran Theatre Review: The Divine SisterPhotos provided by the Short North Stage.
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The Short North Stage’s rendition of the comedic play, The Divine Sister, was hilariously offensive, highly energetic and slightly sexual.

At this past Thursday night’s performance, The Garden Theatre hosted the local theatre company, and managed to keep the small audience consistently laughing throughout the two-hour performance. The quaint performance hall located in The Short North, equipped with cocktail lounge and bar, seats a small auditorium of fifty. As the lights dimmed to complete darkness, the opening monologue began, informing the audience that impure thoughts and using the restroom during the performance were sins. We were on Jesus’s time now; “If Jesus was crucified for our sins, we can hold our bladder.” It was quite unfortunate because I had a few beers before the show…

Fresh-off-the-boat from Germany, Sister Walburga, and Pittsburgh-punk, Sister Accacia, opened up the stage by welcoming Sister Walburga to the church. Young postulant orphan, Agnes, joins her Sisters on stage and presents her discovery of urine-stained underwear that resembles the Holy Saint Claire. Clutching the underwear, Agnes swears the urine stain is a beautiful premonition, and her Sisters quickly prover her wrong. Young orphan Agnes’s, played by Erin Mellon, was painfully innocent and reeked of a virgin, desperately seeking her real parents through Jesus Christ Our Savior. Next presented, Mother Superior, played by the talented Doug Joseph, sported long eyelashes, peach lipstick and turquoise eyeshadow, fitting the dominating female role as “head nun” at the church. The play revolved around Mother Superior’s dedication to saving her church, seeking financial donation from the wealthy, widowed atheist neighbor, Margaret Livingston. Can the ultimate Catholic convert the ultimate atheist? We shall find out.

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The plot was apparently intertwined, turning corners, finding twists and discovering much about the characters throughout the entirety of the play. This kept the audience engaged and keeping on-point with the look-a-like nuns. Shortly after the play began, Mother Superior and orphan Agnes serenaded the crowd in a witty, show-tune duet on the guitar. The three chord duet strikingly reminded me of Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, his loud and embellished voice full in body and character. Doug Joseph’s energy and confidence affected the cast members, as well as the audience, in an effortlessly positive way. This assurance led the cast into committing to the characters of the story,  performing an excellent rendition. As lead nun in The Divine Sisters, Doug’s performance was spot-on.

The Short North Stage’s actors are talented and experienced, it wasn’t difficult to grasp this knowledge. Sister Walburga’s convincing german accent and harsh exterior felt as if she was truly a cold-hearted nun off-stage. Sister Accacius, spunky and loud, developed a quick and serious relationship with Sister Walburga, sharing a sweet and convincing embrace on the bench outside of the church. Committed to the make-out, despite the loud cackles of the crowd, the two sisters locked lips heatedly until young postulant witnessed the scene. Sister Accacius’s subtle arousal began coincidentally after this incident,  the crowd feeling the frustration of the sexually-frustrated adult nun. Accacius’s character had the potential to have been overdone and obnoxious, but the role was tastefully tamed in order to accommodate the audience. From Accacius to Agnus, the young postulant believed she was experiencing Jesus’s premonition’s, all day every day. I wasn’t too fond of the mousey character, but Erin Mellon performed her character very well — this being her first Short North Stage Production.

I enjoyed this comedic performance presented by some of Columbus’s own. The Divine Sister’s humor was reaching many highs, and remained at a few stagnate mediums, understandably. The actors used exaggerated body-language, audience engagement and musical skits in order to bring the play to life, making the show feel unique to the time, place and venue.

Who doesn’t love a mockery of a catholic-comedy centered around misfit nuns and a premonition-seeking-teenager? Apparently I do, and I have no doubt this show wouldn’t entertain your average night.

The Divine Sister runs May 29 through June 15th at The Garden Theatre. For more information or tickets, visit www.shortnorthstage.org.

Photos provided by the Short North Stage.

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