The nuns who were the central characters in classic films like The Bells of St. Mary, The Nun's Story and The Song of Bernadette were generally radiant, somewhat otherworldly—and ridiculously hot. In the last decade or so, that's certainly changed. Witness the veiled sisters of The Magdalene Sisters, Doubt and Philomena.
That range of humanity gave Charles Busch, creator of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Psycho Beach Party, plenty of material for The Divine Sister, which Actors Comedy Lab enacts in an amusing, abrasive co-production with Raleigh Little Theatre.
Tony Hefner ably helms the show as the mother superior of a school in 1966, heady times for this gutsy one-time girl reporter. To a novice with the portentous name of Agnes (Lexi Levy), she says, "We are living in a time of great social change. We must do everything in our power to stop it."
Anyone expecting an extended takeoff on Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code will be gratified by characters including Amy Bossi Nasiatka as the Teutonic Sr. Walburga, and appearances by a mysterious white-haired monk. Alison Lawrence adds heart to the pugilistic Sr. Acacius.
Chockablock with woeful puns and comic bits riffing on everything from ecumenicism to flatulence, Rod Rich's fizzy direction keeps eyebrows rising ever higher.
This article appears in print with the headline "Black sisterhood."