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Comedy in good faith

"Sister Strikes Again! Late Nite Catechism 2" 

Comedy in good faith

The character of the funny nun has been around at least since Chaucer, and is here to stay as a staple of pop culture. You've seen her in "The Sound of Music," "The Flying Nun," numerous variations on "Nunsense", etc., etc.

My own upbringing was about as un-Roman Catholic as can be imagined, so I can't honestly share in nostalgia for schools where nuns ruled and patent-leather shows reflected up. But if you see your past through RC-tinted glasses, or just find ladies in habits amusing, you are definitely in the target audience for "Sister Strikes Again! Late Nite Catechism 2", which opened in mid-November on Geva's Nextstage and will run until we see white smoke from the Vatican... I mean, through December 15.

This play — a jokey jogtrot through some details of the Roman Catholic catechism, led by a character known simply as "Sister" — is the second in a successful franchise of shows written by Maripat Donovan, who has also performed in the shows. Geva's "Late Nite Catechism 2" performance features Colleen Moore as Sister; she also played the role in last year's production of "Sister's Christmas Catechism." (There are quite a few of these "Catechism" shows out there, judging from the program; I hope "Late Nite Catechism Las Vegas" makes its way here eventually. )

Moore makes a delightful old-school nun, as she cheerfully instructs "publics" (the public-school educated, as opposed to the "parochials") in the intricacies of the Faith. This catechism class apparently takes place in the present day —a photograph of a smiling President Obama decorates the bulletin board. The accessories on stage, however, are from the 1950's or 60's, including one of those green friezes above the blackboard with dotted white lines and examples of cursive letters, and a laughably gauche color filmstrip and projector. (Audience participation is the backbone of this show, so if you are not careful, Sister may ask you to provide the "beep" before each change of picture.) The effect is not satire, but respectful kidding.

To be honest, I wouldn't really call "Late Nite Catechism 2" a play; it's more an extended stand-up act. As such, even this "public" has to admit it is pretty entertaining and very skillfully performed. (And pretty short: 90 minutes, including an intermission.) Colleen Moore does her nun thing with a skill that easily masks how difficult it can be to individually engage with audience members, and which keeps this show afloat. There were quite a few "parochials" in the audience at the performance I attended, which made her job easier, I'm sure.

As played by Moore, Sister has an infectious smile and a friendly air; you will not be encountering Christopher Durang's ferocious Sister Mary Ignatius at Geva. The more depraved among us might wish that we were, but I must also admit it is hard to be too critical of a play that offers you a copy of the Ten Commandments to take home with you.

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