A journalist, hopelessly in love, disguises as a priest, who disguises as a nun, who disguises as a bishop – all just to be near the women he loves. This is the sort of multi-layered, hysterical mistaken identity you get in Drinking Habits, a farce comedy playing at Stage West Theatre Calgary.
Set in the Convent of the Sisters of Perpetual Sewing, the only actual needlework going on is in the audience when they are in stitches with laughter.
Two religious sisters, living in a small convent with a seemingly oblivious head nun, are responsible for the sewing and mending of religious garments. However, recognizing that the meagre funds they collect from their pains are insufficient to support the convent financially, they come up with a closeted plan of their own that will keep the convent doors open.
While secretly brewing illicit vino and selling it the locals, the sister’s only problem is hiding it from Mother Superior, who happens to consider wine to be the devil’s drink. However, as expected, when mixing secrets and wine, something has to spill eventually.
The Sister’s award winning beverage has garnered the attention of a couple of local reporters who are tasked to break the story regarding the source of the mystery drink. The journalists, one career-driven and the other hopelessly in love, will go to any lengths to make front page news.
At the same time, Rome has sent a letter to the convent advising them of the immediate arrival of a visiting sister to their humble abode. This spurs on anxiety that the tiny convent is at risk of being shut down. The paranoia that spies are in the midst quickly makes way for accusations and disguises aplenty.
Unfortunately, all this attention makes it difficult to cover up the hidden winery from Mother Superior, especially because it is located right under her nose.
The ending is impossible to predict and offers pieces to a puzzle the audience did not even know existed. Everyone is working to reconnect with long lost relatives and old flames while members of the clergy busy themselves with trickery – albeit with good intentions.
Secrecy mixed with wine always make for interesting confessions – but in this convent – you must be careful whom you confess to. Using common Christian stereotypes, this drama includes (drunken) buffoonery and horseplay alongside comically improbable situations. The result is an enjoyable, entertaining and humorous night out at the theatre.
Drinking Habits by Tom Smith is playing at Stage West Calgary until April 16.