The Lynn Canal Community Players are at it again. On the heels of a moody, period drama set in Spain, comes a darkish comedy in France. After a packed, one-month rehearsal schedule, the troupe is set to hit the stage for the opening weekend of ‘Incorruptible, a Dark Comedy About the Dark Ages.’
Apparently, it’s easier to find human bones, or replicas of human bones, in Haines than it is to find a handful of monks. Who knew?
“There are a lot of people with skeletons in their closets,” says Amanda Randles, who was faced with both those challenges in the not-so-distant past. But as any good director does, she pulled through in the name of local theater.
“It’s hard to find a monk in Haines, but I found five fabulous, wonderful monks,” she says. “I put the word out that we needed some bones that we at least vaguely human-sized for this and I have been getting phone calls from a fascinating cross-section of the community that happen to have bones.”
Incorruptible, a Dark Comedy About the Dark Ages, written by Michael Hollinger, takes place in 1250 AD, and fell into Randles’ lap about four years ago. Well, she bought the script after a friend hounded her to go see the play in Oregon, but, since then, she’s been scheming on just how, where, and when she could stage the show.
“This is a monastery in the village of Priseaux, and the monastery is down on their luck. They’ve had floods, they’ve had all sorts of problem go on. And their saint hasn’t worked a miracle in 13 years, and the pilgrims aren’t coming anymore and so the monastery is going broke. And so, this is about their plan and scheme to get the monastery back on their feet.”
Essentially, and without giving too much away, the monks dig up run-of-the-mill skeletons and try to pawn them off as saint relics to get some quick cash and climb out of the red. And with plenty of twists, turns, and hijinks, hilarity ensues.
A couple of months ago, while Randles was acting in the Community Players’ last production – The House of Bernarda Alba – she saw her chance to tackle Incorruptible.
“I’ve always had it in the back of my mind because it’s this really cool script because it’s really funny and silly and when we were putting together Bernarda Alba, some of the people who were in the cast for that, one in particular, I saw and thought ‘ah, there’s my Agatha!’”
Mother Agatha is played by Suzanne Newton.
“I took it home and read it, and I thought ‘That’s not even a part, that’s me. That’s my life,'” says Newton. “Being this large, surly woman who doesn’t take a lot of baloney off anyone, but dishes it out a lot fit really well. And it’s fun. It’s just a whole lot of fun.”
Newton says a prominent theme throughout the show is the rivalry between siblings in the village who both run religious institutions. They both need to raise money to feed the poor villagers.
“So there’s a huge rivalry to come up with saints, to come up with that money. So, there’s not a lot of them to go around, not a lot of miracles, so we make our own. Sort of. Kind of. A little bit.”
While the humor is described by those involved as silly, and “Monty Pythonesque,” the play gently pokes fun at religion.
“I hope people take the play in the right spirit,” says cast member Mark Zeiger. “As I said, I’m an Ecclesiastical offspring, and I’ve seen people get upset about far less than what is going on in this play. But, there’s nothing controversial, it’s based on things that really did happen, and it’s a comedy.”
Zeiger, a minister’s son in real life, who plays Father Charles, the Abbot of the village. He says he got his start in local theatre early in life, playing the baby Jesus in a Fairbanks production when he was just two months old.
“So, this role, as the mere Abbot, is quite a comedown.”
Jokes aside, which is admittedly difficult with this group, Zeiger says it was all he could do to keep from begging for a role in Incorruptible.
Madeline Witek also jumped at the chance to showcase her comedic talents. She was one of several cast members that hopped from February’s Bernarda Alba production, head first into this one. But this role – she plays Marie, the wife-of-sorts to the minstrel Jack – is very different, she says. Less crying, more slapstick.
“I’ve never had to play dead on stage for this long, and have so much happen to me that I’m not supposed to react to,” Witek says.
So, we’ve got grave-robbing monks who manage to rationalize their antics for the greater good. Throw in plenty of physical humor, one-line zingers, and cheeky satire, and it’s a recipe for a good time.
Oh, and one more thing. Director Randles, who describes herself as chief cook and bottlewasher, also makes an appearance in the show. She plays the Pope.
The play runs this weekend, May 6th and 7th and next Friday and Saturday, as well. The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Chilkat Center for the Arts on all four nights with tickets available at the door.