Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You


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SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU, Chemically Imbalanced Comedy, at the Cornservatory. Christopher Durang's slash-and-burn attack on Catholicism is a little the worse for wear since the play opened off-Broadway in 1979: a decade of scandal has practically reduced the script's most brazen accusations against the church into statements of fact. Angela McMahon in the title role conveys genuine menace, berating the audience repeatedly (in a wavering Irish brogue) during the Christmas-themed lecture that opens the show. Durang's hostile depiction is made all the more blasphemous by McMahon's personal state--she's visibly pregnant under her robes, which gives the character's riffs on immaculate conception and illegitimate children an even more malicious meaning.

Of the four former students who interrupt Sister Mary's harangue to accuse her of psychological abuse, only Kelly Anchors comes close to McMahon's fever pitch. Sedate performances by the others undercut the fierce proceedings, though the fault may lie in part with Durang's one-note treatment of the characters as lambs led to the slaughter. Still, Kristen Williams's staging seems a little too reverent--a curious turn considering that nothing about the script could be deemed even remotely polite.

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