June 3, 2023

Comedic Nightmare of Religion

An NCC student ID with a non-perishable food item or five dollars. For that admission price, students and community members can watch any of NCC’s theater productions.

On February 17, I paid that price at the Lipkin Theatre and settled in for an afternoon of dark absurdist comedy brought to life by eight crew members and seven cast members.

This production comprised two one-act plays, “The Actor’s Nightmare” and “Sister Ignatius Explains It All For You”, written by Christopher Durang and directed by first-time NCC theater director Kate Egging.

 The production opened with “The Actor’s Nightmare” and from the minute Stephen Simone stumbled onstage in disheveled confusion, it was easy to see that one was in for a treat.

Simone, along with Briauna Furgivele, Kayla Starace, Mary Bolan, and Brett Oliveira,  proceeded to take the audience on a journey through Noël Coward’s “Private Lives” making a detour through Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” and several of Samuel Beckett’s plays including “Waiting for Godot” before finally arriving at Robert Bolt’s “ A Man for All Seasons” where they met the executioner Jeremy Thompson.

After laughing their way through the journey of “The Actor’s Nightmare,” audience members gathered for a religious lesson in “Sister Ignatius Explains It All For You.”

The lesson consisted of the hypocrisy of Catholicism, disturbing and sometimes puzzling stories about the Sister’s childhood, a visit from the Sister’s spiteful ex-students, and cookies. This disconcerting but humorous piece took an unaware audience down a rabbit hole of Catholicism, leaving them gasping when they finally crash landed at the end.

Although the production team and cast totaled 16, including the director, the quality of the production and the skills exhibited by the cast,even the amateur members, left the audience wanting little.

That said, some of the amateur cast members still have a bit to work on in terms of voice projection, but the entire cast managed to bring the characters to life for the audience, and each character’s goal was easily recognized and identified with. The audience should not head into the production expecting Lin-Manuel Miranda level talents on display, but if the talents on display at this production are indicative of the production quality at NCC, this critic will certainly be back for more.

 After spending the afternoon traveling from the hilarity of the nightmare to the dark lessons taught by Sister Ignatius, this critic couldn’t help but wonder…Isn’t it strange how potent cheap theater can be?

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