BWW Review: DRINKING HABITS - Palace Playhouse Presents Hilarious Comedy
The Georgetown Palace Playhouse has audiences rolling in the aisles with classically drawn farce DRINKING HABITS by Tom Smith.
As the play begins we find the Sisters of Perpetual Sewing are a small convent, some would call them microscopic with only three nuns in residence. Two of the nuns, Sister Philomina (Raynelle Shelly) and Sister Augusta (Barb Jernigan) have a secret, they've been making wine and selling it to keep their tiny home afloat. If Mother Superior (Linda Myers) knew she would blow a gasket because she can't even speak the word "wine" much less let any pass her lips. Groundskeeper George (Jesse Perez) helps the sisters harvest the grapes and make the prohibited libation under the nose of the watchful head of house. The Mother Superior has a lot on her mind as news has come from Rome that their order may be on the chopping block because of its insignificance. Enter Sally (Beth Burroughs) and Paul (Bobby DiPasquale) a couple of reporters nosing around the convent for a story. Add the local priest with a big secret, a dash of imposed moments of prayerful silence and gently stir and you've got all the ingredients for a door slamming farce that will keep you laughing for the two hour running time. While DRINKING HABITS isn't great literature, it certainly proves to be very entertaining. The laughs flow through the evening like the sisters' wine.
The Palace Playhouse has been converted in the last year from a rather long one sided playing space into a three sided black box style theatre that Austin area audiences will be very familiar with. The new configuration is outstanding, making excellent use of the space and giving the audience a more comfortable experience. Director Arden Treviño keeps the action moving and except for a single scene where the audience is playing visual ping-pong, uses the stage exceptionally well. The entire cast work well together and are utterly delightful. Cast standouts include Kimberly Houser as Sister Mary Catherine, the young, innocent newcomer to the convent. Houser is effervescent and glows with an inner light that is contagious. As Sister Philomena, Raynelle Shelly is an absolute hoot; she supplies some of the biggest laughs of the night with her spot on delivery. Linda Myers as Mother Superior shows outstanding comic chops as the temperance minded leader of the nuns. As the nun who is all too adept at lying, Barb Jernigan is at her harried best. Beth Burroughs is hilarious as the ambitious reporter Sally, her timing is polished and effortless. As Sally's cohort, Paul, Bobby DiPasquale is a gifted physical comedian, contributing many of the door slams of the farce. As a former Catholic school child, I had a couple of quibbles with the costuming, (I had teachers in full whimple habits and veils without the neck covering just seem wrong to me) but they are minor and didn't effect the comedy in the least. If I may climb on my soapbox for just a moment; given the talent level of the of the four leading ladies of this cast, it's a downright shame that there are so few roles for women over the age of forty. These actresses, and many more besides, deserve more opportunities to show an audience what they can do. It's upsetting to me that the default roles for women of this age are nuns. Think about that folks, it's a shameful waste of potential.
I highly recommend The Palace Playhouse's production of DRINKING HABITS. If you are looking for a great evening full of laughs at really funny characters, this show is certainly your ticket.
by Tom Smith
Directed by Arden Treviño
Palace Playhouse, Georgetown, Texas
September 29 - October 22 - Thursday thru Saturday at 7:30PM, Sunday at 2:00PM
Running Time: 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission
Tickets: $30 - $28, georgetownpalace.com