INCORRUPTIBLE, A Farce by Michael Hollinger, at Footlighters

by Kelly Thunstrom

(l. to r.) Paul Astheimer, Joe Fortunato, Greg Kasander (in the shadows) and Sue Scott, members of the cast of INCORRUPTIBLE, running at Footlighters Theater in Berwyn PA through September 24.

Footlighters does everything right to set the tone for INCORRUPTIBLE, a dark comedy written by Michael Hollinger, set in a French monastery in the Dark Ages. From Gregorian chants playing before the production begins, to candles flickering on the walls like one was in a real Church, it sets a wonderful atmosphere.

Directed by Sarah Sperling, INCORRUPTIBLE revolves around a group of monks who have the relics of St. Foy in their possession. Even though people pray in front of the bones (for a penny), they have not produced a miracle in years. A rival monastery in another town steals St. Foy’s “identity”, and the monks must figure out a way to continue to make money with a saint who isn’t producing miracles. The funniest line of INCORRUPTIBLE is the last of Act One, when the Abbott (Joe Fortunato) decides what must be done. Hollinger makes fun of the fact that humans will really do anything to rationalize their behavior. Intermission brings you rousing renditions of popular music done to Gregorian chants (You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Guns and Roses by chanting monks.).

Set designer Paul Astheimer (also a cast member) did a great job of creating such an authentic looking set. The sound system needs to be checked, as there was an annoying buzzing sound throughout most of Act One on the night I was there.

As this is a farce, the pacing should be at lightning-speed. Jokes should come fast and furious with the audience roaring on the floor with laughter. This does not always happen. Scenes with monks Martin (Paul Astheimer), Brother Olf (Greg Kasander), Brother Felix (Randy Weinstein), the Abbott, and Jack (Will Rompala) sometimes fall flat due to long pauses. Lines that should get huge laughs do not due to the pacing.

Sue Scott, who plays the Peasant Woman, has a wonderful sense of timing, as does Elizabeth Cascarelli (Marie). Trish Cacek (Agatha) plays a nun that would make those “rap on your knuckles” stories from the past a Disney movie.

The best scenes of the night are some involving Footlighters’s most consistent actors, Rompala and Weinstein. Weinstein, as usual, plays the comedian with ease, showing disgust over the monks’ plan. Both have astute pacing in their scenes, especially when they work together.

If the actors get things moving more quickly, INCORRUPTIBLE can be a rollicking good time at the theater.

by Michael Hollinger
Directed by Sarah Sperling
September 9-24, 2011
Footlighters Theater
58 Main Ave
Berwyn, PA

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