Nunsense was ‘energised’
An Elvis poster, five nuns and a cacophony of singing, dancing, and monologuing filled Merthyr Road Uniting Church hall for Nash Theatre’s most recent theatrical endeavour, ‘Nunsense.’ The largely mature clientele laughed along to the comedic nuns as they put on a charity show to raise money for the burial of four sisters who had been poisoned by a bad batch of vichyssoise soup.
‘Nunsense’ took on the loose style of cabaret with brief scenes linking the songs together and a healthy dose of audience interaction to keep the show moving along. Despite a fair few off notes, wandering accents and slip-ups along the way the audience never wavered in their encouraging applause and laughter.
The irony was not lost in staging a somewhat sacrilegious show in a church with jokes about the saints and tenets of Catholicism. However, audiences didn’t seem to mind and those who may have been uncomfortable were outnumbered by those who clapped along wholeheartedly. To a more secular and contemporary audience, many of the jokes and jabs about the Catholic faith may have gone over people’s heads. ‘Nunsense’ is certainly a show rich with religious and cultural references that may be lost on some.
Director Brenda White did an effective job of ensuring each nun had a definable personality and assembled a cast that fit into each character archetype well. Due to the cabaret style of the show, many of the characters lent themselves to a more pantomime form of theatre. Every nun was larger than life and injected huge amounts of personality into their performance. Colleen Crisp (Sister Mary Regina) was believable in her performance as Mother Superior and had excellent comedic timing that gave pace to the performance.
Unfortunately, many of the songs were composed in a fairly high range that did not suit the voice types of most performers. Sarah Willoughby (Sister Mary Leo) was only able to show off her incredible belt and runs in the final song and, for the remainder of the performance, sat in a more legit vocal space that failed to show off her vocal ability.
Emily McCormick (Sister Amnesia) did a commendable job in her performance and tackled the difficult vocal lines with ease. McCormick’s solo required her to jump from the bottom of her range to an operatic space every few bars. McCormick handled this challenge effectively and delivered the stand-out performance of the evening.
More work may have been needed to tighten harmonies overall and to ensure the cast were hitting their notes. While some musical moments may have fallen flat, piano accompaniment by Stuart Crisp hit the mark for the intimate gathering and space.
The actors did a commendable job in maintaining audience interaction throughout the performance. Many returned to the same audience members to continue a joke that had been made by other cast members. This repartee between performers and the crowd was entertaining to watch and left the audience smiling.
‘Nunsense’ was certainly not a show that’s easily forgotten. The crowd was there to support and, no matter what, the audience cheered along. Despite some rusty moments, it was lovely to see the heart of community theatre on display at Nash Theatre’s production of ‘Nunsense’, which undeniably had heart and passion.
‘Nunsense’ performs at Merthyr Road Uniting Church until June 1, 2019. Book tickets at https://nashtheatre.com/.