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One-Woman Show Second to Nun: "Late Nite Catechism 2" at the Timber Lake Playhouse PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 16 August 2005 18:00
In all honesty, it might not be appropriate for me to critique the new production at the Timber Lake Playhouse, considering that at Saturday night’s performance I was in it. Then again, we all were.

In Late Nite Catechism 2, actress and comedienne Amanda Hebert, in full nun regalia, teaches the audience about Catholicism, life, and the correct means of getting to heaven. (Or, if you fail to heed her advice, hell.) “Sister” conducts her lecture with visual aids and lots of felt – she loves felt – but don’t think that she’s going to do all the work for you; Late Nite Catechism 2 is a completely interactive theatrical experience – the audience portrays Sister’s “classroom” – and boy, did Saturday night’s crowd make that interesting.

From the start, when the jovial but imperious Sister entered the theatre, it was clear that no fourth wall existed in Late Nite; Sister spoke directly to the audience and expected responses, which were duly, if nervously, provided. (Hebert is a faux nun, of course, but you’d never guess it from her performance.)

After about 15 minutes of tête-à-tête, which included ordering a front-row patron to get rid of her chewing gum (“Offer it up,” she admonished), Sister asked if anyone in the audience had any questions thus far. Silence. She asked again. More silence. “It’s like a painting out there,” she replied, and forged on.

But a few minutes later, Sister stood behind her lectern and asked an audience member, by name, for the answer to a question.

It was then clear that the box office provided her a list of all that evening’s ticket-buyers, and you – yes, you – could be called on, and embarrassed, at any given moment.

What followed, in addition to the scripted material, was an often-riotous evening of patrons either rising to the challenge or making incredible asses of themselves; a few offered valid questions regarding Catholic beliefs, numerous others taunted Sister, which Hebert handled with staggering aplomb, and one woman, after being asked, somehow managed to misspell her own name. Late Nite is like a two-hour stand-up routine in which the hecklers are actually the co-stars; you could have cut the schadenfreude with a knife.

The interaction with the audience is the second-most-entertaining element in Late Nite. The most entertaining element is Amanda Hebert herself, whose comic timing, improv skills, and unflappable deadpan leave the audience convulsing with laughter, even when the jokes are only half-good. (When she herself chooses to offer it up, Hebert also flashes a beautiful, joyous smile.) Late Nite Catechism 2 is a wonderfully-sustained – i.e., continually amusing – season-closer for Timber Lake, but you’ve been warned: If you’re the sort who’d sit in the back of the class and pray that you wouldn’t be called on, this will not be your cup of tea.

For tickets or more information, visit (http://www.timberlakeplayhouse.org) or call (815)244-2035.
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