Review: ‘The Divine Sister’ at Fells Point Corner Theatre

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Just in time to ring in the holiday cheer and chuckle with a blaze this bustling season, Fells Point Corner Theatre (FPCT) presents the Baltimore premiere of actor/novelist/playwright/drag legend Charles Busch’s over-the-top hit comedy, The Divine Sister.

Holly Gibbs, Lynda McClary, and Steven Shriner. Photo by Tessa Sollway.

Holly Gibbs, Lynda McClary, and Steven Shriner. Photo by Tessa Sollway.

Smartly staged and discerningly directed by Steve Goldklang on a minimalist set, the satirical production hilariously and irreverently spoofs nearly every Hollywood ‘nun film’ ever made in the past five or six decades – evoking such movies as The Song of Bernadette. The Bells of St. Mary’s, The Trouble with Angels, The Singing NunAgnes of GodThe DaVinci Code, and The Sound of Music; a clever all-in-one send up replete with twists and turns throughout.

In The Divine Sister, The Convent at St. Veronica’s of Pittsburgh desperately needs a new school, and Mother Superior (an amusingly exuberant Steven Shriner) is determined to get it built, but she is faced with a barrage of challenges on her quest, including her riotously, colorful subordinate nuns (Sister Walburga, the uber-Teutonic nun from the Mother House in Berlin, and Sister Acacia, the convent’s tough-talking wrestling coach with a secret in her past, both entertainingly depicted by Kathryn Daniels and Holly Gibbs, respectively) and a wide-eyed postulant, Agnes, with mysterious healing powers (persuasively played by Anne Shoemaker).

 Holly Gibbs, Kathryn Daniels, Tom Lodge, Steven Shriner, Anne Shoemaker, and Lynda McClary. Photo by Tessa Sollway.

Holly Gibbs, Kathryn Daniels, Tom Lodge, Steven Shriner, Anne Shoemaker, and Lynda McClary. Photo by Tessa Sollway.

Excellently executed by the vastly versatile six-member cast (most notably, Lynda McClary who fantastically doubles up as wealthy Jewish-atheist widow, Mrs. Levinson and Timothy, a prepubescent lad who has trouble connecting his bat with baseballs and his head with his gender orientation), the raucous show conjures up the outrageously madcap theatrical style of Busch’s works delineated in Die, Mommie, Die!Psycho Beach Party, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, and Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (which ran five years and is one of the longest-running plays in off-Broadway history).

Bitingly funny and refreshingly off-the-wall, Fells Point Corner Theatre’s The Divine Sister is a heavenly, devilish, and delightful laugh-out-loud session.

Note: The Divine Sister may be best appreciated by adults who appreciate gender-bending humor joined with slapstick camp.

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

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The Divine Sister plays through December 18, 2016, at Fells Point Corner Theatre – 251 South Ann Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, purchase them at the door, or online.

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