The funny nun character has been around at least since Chaucer and is here to stay as a pop culture staple. You’ve seen her in “The Sound of Music”, “The Flying Nun”, many variations on “Nunsense”, etc., etc.
My own upbringing was about as anti-Catholic as one would imagine, so I can’t honestly share the nostalgia for schools where nuns ruled and patent leather shows reflected. But if you see your past through tinted RC glasses, or if you just find the women with funny habits, you’re definitely in the target audience for “Sister Strikes Again! Late Nite Catechism 2″, which opened at the mid-November on Nextstage from Geva and will be running until we see white smoke from the Vatican… I mean, until December 15th.
This play – a jokey jogtrot through certain details of the Roman Catholic Catechism, led by a character known simply as “Sister” – is the second in a successful franchise of shows written by Maripat Donovan, who also starred in the shows. Geva’s “Late Nite Catechism 2” performance features Colleen Moore as Sister; she also starred in the production of “Sister’s Christmas Catechism” last year. (There are quite a few of those “Catechism” shows, judging by the schedule; hopefully “Late Nite Catechism Las Vegas” makes it here eventually.)
Moore does a delicious old school nun, as she cheerfully instructs the “audiences” (the public-school educated, as opposed to the “parochial”) in the intricacies of the Faith. This catechism lesson apparently takes place in the present day – a photograph of a smiling President Obama decorates the bulletin board. The onstage props, however, are from the 50s or 60s, including one of those green friezes above the blackboard with dotted white lines and examples of cursive lettering, and ridiculously awkward colored film and projector. (Audience participation is the backbone of this show, so if you’re not careful, Sister may ask you to provide the “beep” before each image change.) The effect is not satire, but a respectful joke.
To be honest, I wouldn’t really call “Late Nite Catechism 2” a play; it’s more of an extended stand-up number. As such, even this “audience” has to admit that it’s quite entertaining and very skillfully performed. (And pretty short: 90 minutes, including an intermission.) Colleen Moore does her nun thing with a skill that easily masks how difficult it can be to engage one-on-one with audience members, and keeps this show going. afloat. There were quite a few “parishioners” in the audience at the performance I attended, which made it easier for her, I’m sure.
Played by Moore, Sister has an infectious smile and a friendly demeanor; you won’t meet Christopher Durang’s fierce sister Mary Ignatius in Geva. The more depraved among us might wish we were, but I also have to admit that it’s hard to be overly critical of a room that offers you a copy of the Ten Commandments to take home.