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Theater review: Black comedy ‘Incorruptible’ is horrifyingly hilarious show

Theater review: Black comedy ‘Incorruptible’ is horrifyingly hilarious show

It’s an abundance of satire, farce and humor, all part of Hubbard Hall Theater Company’s production

St. Foy’s, a small monastery in 13th century France is down on its luck. Unable to serve the poor, patch its roof or house the homeless, the situation looks dire.

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For Gazette theater writer Bill Buell's preview of this show, click here.

Why? Their patron saint’s lovely bones, a lure for the faithful (and their money), have lost their healing touch and its miracles have ceased. No miracles, no pilgrims, no cash. But wait. A convent down the road has hoards of pilgrims, loads of cash and is producing miracles galore. Miracles courtesy of St. Foy!

What’s going on? It’s an abundance of satire, farce and humor, all part of Hubbard Hall Theater Company’s production of Michael Hollinger’s Dark Ages black comedy “Incorruptible.”

Hollinger’s roaringly funny exposé on the Church’s trafficking in saintly body parts, crossed with a tender romance and topped with a restoration of faith that had waned, is outrageous, horrifying, sometimes tense and downright hilarious. The destitute monks feel their faith slipping away until they cross paths with a cunning, one-eyed traveling minstrel who teaches them an enterprising way to fill their empty offering plate.

‘Incorruptible’

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

It would be criminal to give too much of the plot away. Most of the enjoyment of the evening comes from watching the characters grabble with sliding down the slippery slope of greed and want. Let’s just say the plot is a cross between “Sweeney Todd,” “Agnes of God” and Monty Python seen through the eyes of Mel Brooks — and most of the humorous horror derives from the monks’ grave robbing Peter to play St. Paul.

Actors on the mark

To make this lunacy fly without grossing out the audience, the casting is most important, and luckily the actors are superb.

As the Abbot Charles suffering a crisis of faith, Richard Howe plays the straight-laced monk well, but plays the monk on the edge of a nervous breakdown even better. Second monk in command, Brother Martin, is given a ridiculously broad, bug-eyed manic, cash-crazed portrayal by Hubbard Hall vet Doug Ryan, and it is right on the money. Christopher Restino as Jack, the one-eyed minstrel who eventually sees fully the error of his ways, mines all the cunning and craft of a man with a plan, and slyly hides it from all until it needs to be revealed. Liz Caspari’s cranky old peasant woman is almost better than that of Monty Python’s Terry Jones, a noble feat.

Caleb Rupp, Christopher Barlow, Christy Vogel and Dianne O’Neill all do great work by taking stock characters and making them breathe fully and fresh. Stephanie Moffet Hynds allows her actors to run with the lunacy of the story while keeping the pace brisk and fresh — despite the stench of mounting corpses.

But it’s the play that really is the surprise of the evening. Playwright Hollinger has come up with sacrilegious, but guilt-free giggling and some naughty fun, all the while keeping a satiric poke at his target — the Church — which remains as corrupt and impregnable as ever. It’s a truly miraculous evening of theater. Amen.

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