The more you like to laugh, the more you’ll appreciate Michael Hollinger’s “Incorruptible,” a dark comedy about the dark ages.
Being produced this month by the Theatre Company at Hubbard Hall, “Incorruptible” is probably not a play for people, in particular Catholics, who seldom display a sense of humor. That group of people, however, according to director Stephanie Moffett Hynds, is a small one.
“People read about this play and ask me, ‘are Catholics going to be offended?’ and I have to laugh,” said Hynds, who has performed on stage at Hubbard Hall numerous times but is serving in her role as director for the first time.
For Gazette theater writer Matthew G. Moross's review of this show, click here.
“They don’t give Catholics enough credit. Most of them have a sense of humor and I think they’ll enjoy it. It’s a play that’s done in a lot of Catholic universities around the country.”
The setting is Priseaux, France, around 1250, and the local monastery is making plans to host a visit by the pope. When the near-destitute monks learn a new way to pay off old debts from a one-eyed minstrel, shortcuts are taken that lead to less-than-holy consequences.
Doug Ryan plays a monk named Martin, who seems to have a little trouble worrying about anything but bottom line.
WHERE: Hubbard Hall, 25 East Main St., Cambridge
WHEN: Through May 30; performance times are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $24-$15
MORE INFO: 677-2495 or www.hubbardhall.org
“I’m the bookkeeping monk, who knows very well that we’re going broke and wants very much to be corrupted,” said Ryan, who has appeared in “The Elephant Man,” “Uncle Vanya,” “Man of La Mancha,” “Present Laughter” and “The Good Doctor” at Hubbard Hall since 2007. “Desperate times call for desperate measures and my character seems to know that.”
While the play shows some 13th century Christians in a poor light, Ryan, like Hynds, doesn’t think that should discourage avid Catholics from showing up and enjoying the play.
“It’s not a mean-spirited play at all, and if you come in with an open mind I think you’ll be OK,” said Ryan. “Of course, I wasn’t raised Catholic or any religion at all for that matter, so I’m the last person to know if it might offend someone. But it’s a funny story. It’s a dark play with a really pure heart, and that’s what I like about it. It has this sweetness to it, right from the beginning to the very end.”
“Incorruptible” was first performed in 1996 at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia, and has since been staged at various regional theaters around the country.
Hollinger, currently a theater professor at Villanova University, is a 48-year-old native of Lancaster, Pa. A graduate of Oberlin College who went on to get a master’s degree in theater from Villanova, Hollinger has six other plays to his credit, including most recently a musical called “A Wonderful Noise.”
“I think it’s great to bring a play to this area that people haven’t seen before,” said Hynds. “It’s a relatively new play. It’s a farce, and like all good farces, people are dealing with a series of events, each one more improbable than the last.
“I love watching characters in a tight spot making or being forced to make decisions that only complicate the already messy predicament they’re in. The tension mounts exponentially with each turn of events, as does the hilarity.”
Also making up the cast with Ryan are Christopher Restino as Jack, the one-eyed minstrel; Richard Howe as Charles, Abbott of Priseau; Caleb Rupp as Brother Felix, Christopher Barlow as Brother Olf, Christy Vogel as Marie, Liz Caspari as Peasant Woman and Dianne O’Neill as Agatha.
Hynds has worked with most of them before, but this is her first time at Hubbard Hall as a director. Her on-stage work includes “The Three Sisters” at Hubbard Hall in 2005 with Katie Ann McDermott and Sophia Garder.
“I think it’s really fun to be on this side of things,” said Hynds, who also works as a program director at Hildene, the home of Robert Todd Lincoln in Manchester, Vt. “These people are all my colleagues and they’ve been so much fun working on this play together. There are eight characters and they’re all full-blown. It really is an ensemble cast.”
For Ryan, the play is a far cry from his much more sobering role of the title character in “The Elephant Man.”
“If things go according to plan, I should get some laughs,” said Ryan. “I don’t necessarily get any more than the other cast members, but my character is the snotty one. He’s sort of a very distinctive type.”