Good Reviews for Incorruptible at Onstage Atlanta!

Here's the latest review of Incorruptible at Onstage Atlanta: 


INCORRUPTIBLE                            OnStage Atlanta
****½  ( A )


1250 AD.  Priseaux, France.  To the north -- Starvation.  To the south -- Hunger.  To the east and west -- Privation.  It is still the "Dark Ages," and everything is, well, really dark.  The monks of the Monastery of Ste. Foy have relied on their relics, the bones of Ste. Foy, to provide their penny-a-prayer income.  But it has been thirteen years since the last miracle, and a neighboring village convent has obtained a counterfeit Ste. Foy, which seems to be generating its own not-so-counterfeit miracles.

What are the poor starving monks to do?  All they have is their faith, their monastery, and their well-stocked cemetery.  Faster than you can say "When Life Hands You Skeletons, Make Blessed Relics," they are in the business of selling "Sacred Bones" to distant towns and churches.  Because it is the Dark Ages, how are their "customers" supposed to learn that theirs is only one of a dozen "Heads of John the Baptist?"

But there's still the question of enticing the Pope himself to visit their small corner of the Holy Profit Empire.  Hence, the need for an actual "Incorruptible" ("Incapable of corruption, that is, decay or dissolution.")  All they need to do is to find an older corpse that has not decayed.

This is a very funny production of a very funny play (by Philadelphia playwright Mark Hollinger).  This is a play that isn't afraid to be outrageous in its cynical portrait of the faithful.  Nor is it afraid to give us an actual from-the-dead miracle, one which in a lesser writer would smack of sentimentality, but here seems ... well ... incorruptible.  Nor is it afraid to have some politically-incorrect fun at the expense of peasants and simple-minded fools and lovers and strangers and siblings and, of course, monks and nuns.

Decatur's OnStage Atlanta has gathered a flock of farceurs who light up the stage with a plethora of over-the-top exaggeration (LeeAnna Lambert should be arrested for overt consumption of scenery).  Darrell Wofford and J. Michael Carroll are wonderful as the older (and supposedly more devout) monks, Chris Schultz is suitably fresh-faced and sincere as the young Felix, whose honest faith may earn him an actual miracle.  I also liked O'Neil Delapenha's glee-filled simpleton Olf as I did the wandering tag-team con artists played by Jef Holbrook and Sara Lynn Herman, as well as Katy Clarke's schemingly pleasant peasant.  And of course, LeeAnna Lambert takes over Act Two completely as the competing nun Agatha, whose only means of communication seems to be from-the-gut emoting with to-the-rafters volume.

This is a very attractive production.  The set by Lizz Dorsey focuses on the monastery's altar, reverently placed in front of an Ogee Window that, in better times, will probably hold stained glass.  Ben Rawson's lighting fills the set with warm candlelight and shadow, with a down-front Oriel Window gobo that punctuates scenes without overwhelming the general wash.  Jane Kroessig's costumes are perfectly 1250 monastery-chic, and Kathy Ellsworth (and apparently every boneyard in Decatur) brings a tongue-in-cheek joy to the props and set dressings.  And, the whole thing is briskly and breezily directed by Aaron Gotlieb.

Did I mention that this show is exquisitely funny?  Okay, maybe the skeptic in me enjoys the skewering of religious hypocrisy more than the average theatre-goer, and maybe my joy in well-done farce colors my enjoyment of any attempt that doesn't fall flat on its face (pratfalls excluded), and maybe my love of Monty Python ensures I enjoy ANY "Dark Age" comedy.  But there is something incredibly freeing about uncontrollable laughter, at seeing cleverly constructed plots blithely unwind, at seeing badly-behaved characters escape by the narrowest of margins being hoist on their own petard.

Or maybe, just maybe, this is a well-written well-produced, well-performed comedy that came along just when I needed it the most!  I'm sure I'm incorruptible enough that that I don't need to mention that the bribes that weren't offered (and wouldn't have been accepted) would have no corrupting influence on my words and favor.  And if something is unmentionable, the least I could do would be to not mention it.

            --  Brad Rudy  (  @bk_rudy  #OSAIncorruptible)

StageJef Holbrook