by Willard Manus
Who knew? Who knew that Catholic nuns and bishops could behave so badly, cracking wise about the church, telling dirty jokes, singing bawdy songs, and sneaking shots of whiskey?
Maybe these things dont truly happen in life, but they surely do in BAD HABITS, Steve Mazurs new play, which is now running at the Ruskin.
As directed by Mike Reilly, BAD HABITS (pun intended) mostly takes place in the convent of the Sisters of St. Cyril in Philadelphia, where four nuns (Lee Garlington, Mouchette van Heldsdingen, Jacqueline Lorraine Schofield and Jacquelynne Fontaine) are getting ready to put on the churchs annual Christmas pageant. An irreverent, cynical, foul-mouthed bunch, they are convinced that the pageant will be St. Cyrils swan-song-and theyre not exactly sorry about it. The convent is poor, in bad repair, and they are fed up with the antics of the brats they teach at the next-door elementary school.
Shocked by their behavior is the Mother Superior (Alley Mills), who is fighting hard to keep St. Cyrils afloat. She thinks it will be saved if the bishop (Orson Bean) can be persuaded to co-sign a ban loan.
Problem is, the bishop, who is more stand-up comic than dedicated ecclesiastic, would just as soon see the convent fail so that he can replace it with a glitzy cathedral. When not cracking jokes, he lays out all the reasons why he wont co-sign, though he does agree to attend the school pageant (where he intends to tell many more jokes, of course).
takes a new turn when a young girl suddenly shows up on the night of a
terrible storm. Maria (Kelsey Griswold) is not only rain-drenched but
extremely distraught, hysterical really. She passes out but after being
tended to by the nuns, she recovers and starts babbling about the visions
shes seeing. Not only that, she begins to show signs of the stigmata,
marks resembling the crucifixion wounds of Jesus. The nuns think shes
a nut-case and poke fun at her, but the Mother Superior sees Maria as
a kind of bread-ticket. If they can prove that a miracle is taking place
at the convent, the bishop might just decide to save it.