"It's a laugh-filled evening for all cultures, classes and religions,"
says the Hollywood Reporter.

Theater review: Late Nite Catechism
By Ed Kauffman
The Hollywood Reporter
December 6, 1999

Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan’s "Late Nite Catechism" is a gleeful, playful-but always respectful, gentle and never vulgar- send-up of Catholic schools in particular and Catholicism in general. It’s a laugh-filled evening for all cultures, classes and religions.

Starring the irresponsible Donovan as Sister, the one-woman solo--in which the audience becomes the class--is best described as interactive comedy. Whether we like it or not, we are in class again: in this case, a somewhat-reluctant adult evening class whose understanding of Catholic teachings is, at best, a bit sketchy.

When "Catechism" played at the Henry Fonda Theatre last summer, the show felt lost in the vastness of the theater space. At the much-smaller Upstairs at the Coronet (once a dance studio rehearsal hall), the space feels just right. We sit on upholstered folding chairs and are surrounded by all of the signs of a schoolroom. Up front are a desk, lectern, American flag, ruler (no longer in use) and blackboard (actually, green) with a list of Catholic saints. Credit Marc Salvia for the set and Patrick Trettenero for expert direction.

Sister, wearing the black robe and starched white habit of a nun, sweeps in from the rear and announces: "Those that are here for instant swim or cardiac aerobics, those classes are down the hall. This is St. Bruno’s catechism."
Sister’s a large woman who claims ("demands" might be a better word) our attention and respect. She also has a keen sense of humor: the quintessential, one should imagine, teaching nun of former days. Donovan blends the gruffness of a drill sergeant with the whimsy of a silent film clown.

During the two-hour show, Sister goes from being a benevolent instructor who hands out glow-in-the-dark rosary beads to audience members who answer her questions correctly to a tough shrew who made a man in the audience give up his gumball candy. "After all," Sister explained, "this is a classroom, not a democracy."

When Sister solicits questions from her audience/class, Donovan--who calls herself a cultural Catholic who sees the bible as a source of stories and parables--displays all of the interactive techniques and timing of a standup comic unafraid to push things to the edge.


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