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The Divine Sister

The Divine Sister

By Charles Busch

Directed by Kate Ingram

Starring Kody Grassett, Brianna Joseph and Alexandra Voelmle

UCF Conservatory Theater, Orlando FL</strong>

There’s something inherently funny about a drag nun, but when you add a nicely convolved comedy around one, it becomes…really fun. You thought I would say “divine,” didn’t you? Good old St. Veronica’s Catholic school in Pittsburg is crumbing. You may recall St. V, she’s patron to laundromats and photographers but building maintenance is not her thing. Mother Superior (Grassett) is cruising for cash and dealing with the school’s wrestling coach, Sister Acacius, (Joseph) as postulant Agnes (Voelmle) has visions and heals the sick by laying on hands. Those two are bad enough, but the best hope for cash is atheist Jew Mrs. Levinson (Madelyn James); but she’s just not all that sympathetic until the deep secrets of the past unravel. The man that pulls the string is her friend Jeremy (Mike Nilsson); he’s an-ex newsman in the style of a hardboiled 1940’s flick and what passes for a romantic lead in the wacky world of Charles Busch.

So is this funny, or just offensive? Both, naturally. Busch’s most famous title is “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom”; a title which no one has ever topped. Grassett is more than just funny, he’s a physical clown and pulls off some pretty good Charlie’s Angels drop-and-roll maneuvers. He’s airy and cerebral like a saint but can get off some comic timing when it’s called for. Little Ms. Voelmle is angelic, she can even pull off a maraschino cherry stigmata with enough charm to not get her knuckles rapped. My favorite was the Ms. Joseph’s wrestling coach. She felt least nun-like of all; tough and no nonsense and the sort of side kick you need in the battle trenches of God. Lastly I’ll mention the evil double agent Sister Walburga (Ashely Turner). She looks pretty good in a vinyl cat suit and almost has the German accent down; her lesbian jokes worked best of all and she was the one actor they trusted with a fake gun.

Director Ingram pulled more than a few sight gags off of the elaborate rotating set designed by Bert Scott; it’s a monstrous expressionist Cathedral door compete with gargoyles (too bad they didn’t look like Mel Brooks). There’s a stack of non church approved language and situtions here, so if you’re easily offended slip back next week for “The Understudy.” But if your knuckles still sting from grade school and you’ll never join the Knights of Columbus this is a gang buster comedy about faith and how to betray it.

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