Friday, March 12, 2010

'Til Death Do Us Part--Late Night Catechism

Yet another Catechism at the 14th Street Theatre

She’s back. Yes, a “Catholic” nun is again castigating, teaching the heathens, making attendees who are errant—chewing gum, wearing low cut blouses or short skirts, not showing respect, or are believers in Scientology--all pay the price. The “good” ones in the audience get religious “baseball” cards with pictures of various saints on them.

Created in 1993 by Vicki Quade & Maripat Donovan, ‘LATE NIGHT CATECHISM,’ as the first version was named, was based on their experiences growing up Catholic in Chicago and the stories and experiences they've heard through the years from friends and family members. Part catechism class, part stand-up routine, it has brought its nostalgic kick to every state in the U.S. as well as to Canada, the U.K., and Australia.

The present edition, entitled ‘TIL DEATH DO US PART—LATE NIGHT CATECHISM 3,’ takes those who have gone through Catholic schooling back to their days as students who need to be taught the “right way of leading their lives,” so they can get to heaven. Heaven, is defined by Sister as “A spectacular concert with the presence of God.” She slips in zingers such as referring to Lutheranism being “Catholic Light,” and telling the assembled that “There is no marriage in heaven, only happiness,” explaining her attendance at a nudist wedding, what is meant by Irish Alzheimer’s (“being drunk”), and showing surprise that a newly engaged couple met on That duo got the “privilege” of participating in a quiz which showed how incompatible they were.

The various Catechism productions star six different actresses. In the Cleveland showing, Mary Zentmyer does a nice job of ad-libbing, using audience responses and situations, to develop a humorous evening.

A show highlight centered on Sister taking on the Vice President of Theatricals at Playhouse Square, for wearing a short skirt and “Nancy Sinatra” boots after the PHS administrator made the mistake of volunteering an answer to one of Sister’s questions. She wound up on stage on several occasions, having to cover her exposed knees with a napkin while keeping score during the couples’ quiz section of the show. Sister also took on the public relations director of several local theatre and dance companies, who was obedient in giving answers to Sister’s probes. Who gets picked on other nights is up for grabs. If you want to be a victim of Sister’s taunts, sit up close or be silly enough to volunteer to answer one of her questions. If not, do as I did, and hide in the back section of the theatre, sit up straight and keep your mouth shut and hand down.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Those who went through Catholic schooling will certainly have flashbacks as they stand erect, have chewing gum put on their noses, rest against the blackboard with their noses in a chalked circle, and hear the sound of “the clicker.” Non-Catholics should also be amused.