Who knew monks could be funny? Especially monks who specialize in grave robbing and fraud? If this sounds like your kind of entertainment, then does Playcrafters of Skippack have a show for you…
INCORRUPTIBLE, an absurdist farce by Michael Hollinger, tells the story of an impoverished abbey in 1250 AD that is clearly in trouble. The relics of their patron saint, St. Foy, are on display, but no one comes to visit anymore…there hasn’t been a miracle in years, and the locals are reluctant to pay for the privilege of praying over the relics. Brother Charles (Ross Druker) is devoted to his parish, wanting to take care of all of the people, leaving the business of paying for everything to Brother Martin (David Deratzian.) The abbey hears that a competing abbey has announced that they have acquired the relics of St. Foy, and miracles are happening there. The brothers investigate, and discover that a traveling minstrel (Juan Caceres) and his “wife” (Emily West) sold the bones to the abbey…but that the bones were not of St. Foy, and were fakes. Hearing this, Brother Martin comes up with the idea of selling “relics” to other abbeys to fund their own, and producing the relics from the abbey’s own graveyard. Things go well until a missive arrives from the Pope, announcing that he is coming to view the relics of the Incorruptible (a saint so pure that the body has not decomposed)…an Incorruptible the abbey does not have!
Director Arnie Finkel has assembled a talented cast. Druker shows the gentle side of Brother Charles, while Deratzian is the money-obsessed Martin. They play off of each other well, and have a good sense of timing. Caceres shows his silly and serious side as Jack, and West is adorable as Marie. There is a scene in the second act where West shows a gift for physical comedy as well, bringing the biggest laughs of the evening. Ron Lake shines as Brother Olf, a slow-witted member of the abbey, and Greg Davis is solid as Brother Felix. Nancy Kadwill is the peasant woman who is sly and persistent, and Lauren Rozensky Flanagan channels every fire-breathing hellcat as Sister Agatha, the Abbess of the competing abbey. Her performance also had the audience totally engaged…after the relative quiet of the previous scene, her entrance had everyone virtually jolt out of their seats.
The set was well done, functional and minimal, with a nice touch of a stone counter-balance on the door to pull it closed…just as it would have been done in the 11th century, and perfect to avoid those awkward moments when a door opens accidentally. Lighting was functional, not too dark, yet accenting the dreariness of the setting. Costumes were well done…monk habits were consistent, and the rest of the cast was in period costuming that allowed for any necessary physical humor.
The subtitle of this play is A Dark Comedy About the Dark Ages, and that is a very aptly descriptive title. The premise of the play (even though things like this did happen in the 11th century) is silly, and the antics of the brothers make it even more so. However, the dialog remains mostly straight, almost serious, giving the audience a choice…do they giggle at the silliness or listen intently to the message? The audience of the performance I attended did the latter…there were chuckles, a couple belly laughs, but for the most part they were engaged in the story, to the detriment of the humor. This is a production in need of audience involvement for the humor to flourish. Put on your laughing cap and join the brothers of the abbey at Priseaux.
INCORRUPTIBLE, A Dark Comedy About the Dark Ages
Comedy by Michael Hollinger
Directed by Arnie Finkel
September 25-October 11, 2014
Playcrafters of Skippack
2011 Store Road
Skippack, PA 19474