“Their ideals are high, it’s just their overheads are higher!” They are an ordinary group of monks residing in the Abbey of Priseaux in Priseaux, France. It is the Year of Our Lord 1250. And they are running low on money, mostly due to the fact that their resident saint’s remains are no longer drawing a crowd. So begins Rooftop Production’s Incorruptible, directed by Vincent Worthington and stage managed by Tyler Cochran. This lively production is a classic farce set in an unusual setting – filled with parted lovers, sibling rivalry, secret trysts, and plenty of moral dilemmas.
There are laughs right out of the gate, courtesy of Brother Martin (played by Ted Ballard with impeccable comic timing and an expression of long-suffering deadpan) and the Peasant Woman (the deceptively innocent-looking Sallie Willows). George Kitchen’s Father Charles the Abbot of Priseaux conveys the Father’s optimism in the face of the struggle between doing what is right and saving the abbey, despite some difficulty with line recall and delivery.
Rounding out the Abbey’s residents (initially!) are Brother Olf and Brother Felix. Brother Olf (Joe Bersack) appears to be set up as the nerdy comic relief with mismatched socks under his sandals and a glaringly obvious bald wig. However, despite the Monty Python and the Holy Grail-esque accent, there was the potential for Bersack to have done a lot more with the character to make him more of a memorable presence. In contrast, Matt Williams embodies the endearingly enthusiastic Brother Felix from the first moment he steps on the stage. His earnest blue eyes convince you that he is even thinking the thoughts of Brother Felix, fully committed to the role even when not the focus of the action.
The Peasant Woman introduces the monks to her daughter, Marie (Jennifer Reitz) and Marie’s boyfriend, Jack/soon to be Brother Norbert (Jay Tilley). The couple bursts into the Abbey in a whirlwind of turquoise, face paint and abysmal juggling skills. Reitz has a hilariously expressive face which never falters throughout the show as she is unceremoniously tossed around and even stuffed into a sack. Tilley is a highlight of the show as one of the few actors who appears truly at ease on the stage. He livens up every scene he breezes into with effective pacing and energetic delivery.
Another highlight of the show is the Abbess of Bernay, brought to life by Carolyn Cameron. She is referred to so frequently throughout the show that the role requires someone who lives up to the hype when they finally do appear. Cameron does not disappoint with her powerful voice and delightfully intimidating presence.
The main problem with this show is pacing. Although Worthington has assembled a good cast and given them blocking filled with constantly changing levels and lots of movement, most scenes seem to drag which really did make the show feel like its two hour run time, if not longer. There were also several instances of awkward pauses and forgotten lines although that could be chalked up to opening night jitters. Luckily, the show looks great thanks to simple and effective lighting designed by Kelly Glyptis and operated by Tyler Cochran and the detailed set designed and constructed by Worthington, Ted Ballard, Charles Weger, and Tyler Cochran.
Costumes (designed by Mandy Ken) fit the show nicely with the muted earth tones for the peasants and religious characters playing well against the bright pops of color of Marie and Jack’s clothes and the red cloth draped on the altar.
If you are in the mood for some light-hearted comedy and have a few hours to spend watching some local theatre “now is not the time for a moral dilemma.”
Running Time: Two hours and 10 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.