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Monks dig up miracles

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. It has been seven days since I last stepped foot into the Backstage Theatre’s production of “Incorruptible,” which has more transgressions in it than all of Shamus O’Toole’s former rough-and-tumble frequenters put together. On the night I entered the Backstage “monastery,” I forgot to genuflect, despite the monastic chants, which greeted me upon entering. Even worse, I chuckled at sexual innuendo about monks’ libidos, cheered them on as they dug up bodies from cemeteries and laughed at the nun’s hideous teeth.

You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the humor in the Backstage Theatre’s latest production, “Incorruptible.” But if you are, you might want to say a few decades on your rosary – or wear your scapula to gain a plenary indulgence – because you’re about to witness some of the most unscrupulous monks in Catholic history.

Playwright Michael Hollinger based “Incorruptible” on events in 10th century France, when two monasteries argued about which had the real relics of the saints, and one began selling fake ones.



The Backstage Theatre’s production of the wacky antics of monks who have high ideals – but even higher overhead – blends the solid acting skills of longtime locals with newer talent in the county.

The play begins slowly with most of the humor revolving around monks who make a poor peasant woman (played perfectly haggard by Dee Dice) pay a penny before praying to the relics of St. Foy (who hasn’t performed a miracle in more than 12 years). The story, and the humor, pick up about halfway through the first act, when the monks blackmail a street performer (played charmingly by Lee Sandblom) into living without the pleasures of human flesh (which proves to be “too hard” for him). But chastity is only the beginning for the new monk. Soon, he’s digging up graves and selling the parts as saintly relics to raise money for the brotherhood.



The second act roars in as powerfully as the second coming of Christ (forgive me, father, for such blasphemous thoughts) with Agatha, the nun from a competing convent (played by Suzanne Pedersen). The worst nuns in Catholic school – even the ones who whacked little kids with yard sticks – couldn’t hold a candle to Agatha’s evil glare and larger-than-life presence. Pedersen steals the show with her stormy entrances and exits – and rightly so, because her character causes the monks to lie, cheat and steal. The opening-night crowd couldn’t help but cheer for the seething nun with really bad teeth.

Bob French delivers a solid performance as the well-meaning head monk who falls into sinful ways to save his monastery. Tom Rehn is so convincing as Martin, the younger monk who advocates selling fake saint relics – even if they’re from Jewish townspeople – it’s as if he’s tapping into memories of a past life in the Middle Ages. Bart Castle weaves a youthful, surprising storyline into the mix, while George Beard plays a dull-witted, wide-eyed innocent monk brilliantly.

Hollinger packed “Incorruptible” with witty plays on words, which audience members may miss the first time. In the first act, the peasant woman tries to sell her daughter’s sexual favors to the monks, defending her actions by saying, “She’s my daughter, and I see nothing wrong with it.” Martin replies, “Wow, that’s quite apparent,” syncopating the last word to say essentially, “Wow, that’s quite a parent.”

Along with the witty subtleties, the cast throws in plenty of physical humor – much of it involving Deborah Shansky.

All in all, director Michael Martorano treats the audience to a comedic look at religious nuances with a cast that transports audience members straight into the Middle Ages – and blesses them by washing away any memory that they’re actually watching actors.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

“Incorruptible’ – 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays through March 1 at the Breckenridge Center for the Performing Arts

(formerly Shamus O’Toole’s). There will be no performance on

Sundays, as stated in the preview and calendar Jan. 24. However, the

Backstage Theatre will present a special

performance of

“Incorruptible” Sunday, Feb. 17, in place of the Feb. 14 show, which is canceled because of Valentine’s Day. The town of Breckenridge also will host a catered reception to dedicate the new

theater at 5:30 p.m. before the show Saturday, Feb. 15. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased by calling (970) 453-0199.


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