Stage West’s Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act is flat fun

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The cast from Drinking Habits are back with a bigger farce than the first time. The sisters of Perpetual Sewing miss the excitement of the old days. The old days where they had to make wine to save their convent. But now things are calm and the sisters wish something would happen to stir things up. They get what they wish for and more and as events unfold Tom Smith’s Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act is mostly an over the top farce that tries really really hard to play for laughs. There are moments of pure comedic gold, but the set ups and jokes mostly feel contrived even if they do come from a highly talented cast.

The play sets up the story by having Sister Augusta (Natascha Girgis) and Sister Philamena (Esther Purves-Smith) discover through Sally (Charlie Gould) the editor of the local paper that the orphanage that Paul (Jeremy LaPalme) and his sister Kate (Kate Madden) grew up in is being forced to close due to shortage in money. The convent hatches two separate plans to make the money to save the orphanage. Sister Augusta and Sister Philamena are going to make wine again. The rest of the convent is going to put on a play and sell tickets.

The play in the production is a terrible script featuring actors such as a zombie like Mother Superior (Elinor Holt) who wrote the script but isn’t sleeping because she saw a vision and doesn’t want to miss the vision if it comes back to her, an untalented magician in Father Chenille (Robert Klein), a very pregnant with twins Kate, who cannot stop eating, gardener George who cannot remember his lines and Paul, who is trying to be the director and keep the production together.

It feels like everyone is trying too hard and the audience has to suspend their disbelief quite a bit. But there are moments of comedic gold, especially when Girgis is given the stage to mime part of the play, proving that she is the queen of comedy. Purves-Smith’s inability to lie is also very funny. Director J. Sean Elliott keeps the action moving but has the script and the scenarios are far fetched for comedy’s sake.

Anton de Groot’s set design includes a lot of doors that ups the comedy factor and Ajay Badoni’s lighting design puts the a cast in the spotlight when they are breaking out in song or acting badly in the play within the play.

Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act is a lot of fun though it definitely feels like a stretch most of the time.

Stage West’s production of Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act runs until April 14. More information is available online.

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