Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Incorruptible
Clague Playhouse
Review by Mark Horning

Also see David's review of Forever Plaid


Robert Gibb, Charles Cover, Dan Sekanic
and Richie Lynch

Photo Courtesy of Clague Playhouse
While lying on his death bed, renowned Shakespearian actor Edmund Kean (1787-1833) was visited by a friend who remarked on his dire circumstances to which Edmund's supposed last words were, "Dying is easy; comedy is hard." This proved especially true during the opening night performance of the Clague Playhouse production of Michael Hollinger's Incorruptible, on stage through June 4, 2017.

Comedy requires strict adherence to split second timing, as line after line needs to flow seemingly effortlessly. Dark comedy is an even harder taskmaster as the cast must take controversial subject matter and make it funny. Call it opening night jitters or lack of preparation but the show on stage was rife with dropped lines and overlapping dialog which all but killed the comedic opportunities and madcap qualities never fully developed.

The year is 1250 A.D. and four impoverished monks live together in the chapter house of a small monastery in Priseaux, France. Although they have a complete skeleton of Saint Foy, there has not been a miracle in thirteen years. It's not just the ages that are dark—so are their prospects. Things are so bad that the impoverished parishioners are paying to pray with buttons instead of pennies. Word reaches the monks that a rival church has what they claim to be the bones of Saint Foy, and miracles are happening with such regularity that the pope himself has paid a visit to this boney interloper.

Desperate times call for desperate measures when the monks learn that a visiting minstrel was the one who sold the scurrilous skeleton to the rival church (for thirty gold pieces) and in fact the "saint" is actually a local recently deceased pig farmer. Jack the minstrel is forced to become Friar Jack as the monks have him dig up the graveyard in order to sell "newly discovered" sacred relics to churches all across Europe.

Things get complicated as the cemetery begins to empty, Friar Jack has connubial visits from his pregnant girlfriend who is in fact the former fiancée (thought dead) of one of the other monks, the pope is on his way to visit the Priseaux monastery in order to see a claimed incorruptible (a saint so pure that the body does not decay), and duplicate relics have been sent to different churches (to date, four heads of John the Baptist, two left feet to one church, and more fingers than can be counted on two hands to another).

While bordering on the sacrilegious, the play has the potential for some truly comedic moments but somehow they never arrive. On opening night, although the attentive audience tittered from time to time, there was only one instance of a genuine participatory laugh.

Billed as a dark comedy (with more emphasis on the former than the latter) "that will have audiences asking for mercy while rolling in the aisles with laughter" simply did not deliver as promised on opening night. Hopefully, as the cast gets a show or two under their belts the comedic timing will sharpen up and it will become the promised potential laugh riot.

Incorruptible, through June 4, 2017, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For tickets and information, visit clagueplayhouse.org or call 404-331-0403.

Cast: Jeff Bartholomew: Jack, Marthan M. Brown: Peasant Woman, Emmy Cohen: Marie, Charles Cover: Brother Olf, Robert Gibb: Brother Martin, Richie Charles: Father Charles, Meg Parish: Sister Agatha, Dan Sekanic: Brother Felix.

Director: Tyson Douglas Rand, Production and Stage Manager: Kate Klotzbach, Sound Designer: Bryan Ritchey, Lighting Designer: Lance Switzer


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