By Colin Cross
Ever left a theatre in pain? No, not from bad seating, bad popcorn, or the latest stomach-churning sound system—but from laughter? Laughter from the heart, and soul, and diaphragm, from which one breathes and sings and takes the measure of life; laughter which is neither coarse nor sardonic nor profane; laughter which gives life, not takes it.
Such is the experience of sitting down before a play like Drinking Habits by American playwright Tom Smith, the story of three nuns struggling to save the life of their convent. Their order?
“The Sisters of Perpetual Sewing,” which repairs liturgical garments. But the sisters have a secret. To keep the convent doors open they also make wine, on the sly. Two of the three, that is, the Sisters Philomena and Augusta, who have been careful to hide the fact from Mother Superior, who desperately disapproves of alcohol. (What Mother Superior wouldn’t?) All is well—more or less—until the sisters’ wine begins to win awards. This attracts the attention of an on-again off-again pair of engaged investigative reporters, Paul and Sally, who show up disguised as a priest and a nun. Add to the mix over-the-top resident priest and former magician, Father Chenille; a monastic ingenue, Sister Mary Catherine; and caretaker George, and you have the makings of an outrageous comedy: a farce, really, in the style of Fawlty Towers. In other words, just imagineFawlty Towersmeets the Catholic Church, and you have the measure of Drinking Habits.
Drinking Habits is being offered in the South Okanagan by the Saint Andrew’s Players, out of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Penticton, and opens August 23-25 at Saxon Winery in Summerland.
It then moves to three other venues: Church and State Winery in Oliver (August 26, 29); Kalala Winery in West Kelowna (August 30, 31), and Township 7 Winery in BC (September 1, 2). All performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at the door; at host wineries; and at the Dragon’s Den in Penticton.