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Once A Catholic: Review

Comedy tells painful truth for Catholics

Seduced: Sally White as Mary McGinty and William Dean as the devious Derek

ONE member of the audience of Once A Catholic at the Playhouse Theatre, Whitstable, turned to her husband and whispered: "This would be funny if it wasn't so true."

For non-Catholics, the Lindley Players' production of Mary O'Malley's comedy about life in a late 1950s convent was a hoot. For others who had suffered at the hands of nuns it must have brought back some horrible memories. "I had to stand in the hall until I ate all my semolina pudding. It was like frog spawn," explained the woman.

 

Poor little Mary Mooney (Isabel Briccolani) ended up spending a disproportionate amount of time standing before a stern Mother Thomas Aquinas (Debi Lovell, normally looking a lot more glamorous in blues soul band Rubber Biscuit), accused of deliberately upsetting nuns with her naive questions about sex. It would be wrong to go into the references to film company Twentieth Century Fox here but those who went to the show will know.

 

Miss Mooney ended up being seduced by her best friend's Teddy Boy boyfriend Derek, played by Billy Dean. For doing the dastardly deed Billy became the first Lindley actor, to my knowledge, to be booed in a play other than the annual panto romp. It was to his credit. The audience took umbrage after he sent Mary on her way home after a night of lust with nothing but a sixpence and the commandment: "Don't tell Mary (all the girls were called Mary) about this."

 

There were, of course, some rude bits which made a few squirm. The dissected rabbit was a bit of a shock as was the well-endowed crucified Jesus at the end. But all in all this was a cheerful trip back in time with snippets of Elvis setting the scenes along with superb lighting from Emma Braiden and attentive direction from Mandy Hunt. Also in cast were Cheryl Mumford as Mother Peter, Penny Cooper as Mother Basil, John McCrae as Mr Emanuelli and the scene-stealing Dan Coles as Father Mullarkey. The rest of the class was played by Sally White, Emma Thomas, Amy Bills, Bethany Steed, Sophie Goldsmith and Polly Broad. Oliver Neil played Cuthbert.

 

John Nurden
Whitstable Times Review: 1st October 2010