Nefarious Nuns Wield More than a Ruler in CCE’s ‘Murder Mystery’

Just as And Then There Were Nuns began to settle in, Anna read from the Bible that, according to the Sisters of Saintly Giveaways, there is a coven of mostly male nuns who may have nefarious designs. We had met most of the show’s colorful cast of characters and Anna, the energetic, positive resort employee,  was just doing her best to carry out the to-do lists the nuns keep assigning her. She was reading as part of a prayer service, and the passage was familiar.

In the Gospel of John, the Pharisees approach Jesus with a woman who has committed adultery. They ask Jesus whether they should stone her as Moses commanded. Slowly, incredulously, Anna read the part of Jesus: “‘Sure. Why not?’ And he joined in the stoning.”

That’s the type of humor the CCE used in And Then There Were Nuns, which ran four shows this weekend—the type that playfully (depending on perspective, probably) gives serious Catholic tradition a wedgie. Sabrina Serani, MCAS ’18, played the part of Anna Roberts, the proverbial straight woman and eventual lone survivor of the bloody affair that occurred on “the island.” It goes something like this, in honor of Agatha Christie (played by Lucy Pawliczek, MCAS ’17): Twelve sinners go on vacation and try to have some fun. What they didn’t count on was a bunch of creepy, marauding nuns.

There might not be a creepier place to sit in the dark with people you don’t know that well, as other folks scamper around in nun costumes, than O’Connell House. The maybe (probably) haunted house of Upper Campus has always been a fine setting for comedy, and the CCE mined its inherent creepiness. In spite of its comedic intentions, sometimes And Then There Were Nuns was actually kind of scary. You’re not quite sure if it’s just the shadows playing tricks on you, or if there’s a gargoyle sitting on that spiny staircase looking right at you

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And Then There Were Nuns is less of a murder mystery and more a mockery of it. Everyone knows it’s the nuns. The mystery part wasn’t what director Amanda Sie, MCAS ’17, and writers Pawliczek and Mary Disbrow, MCAS ’18, seemed interested in. They mined for comedy the fact that their characters remain mostly oblivious to the evil nuns, along with some sketch situations. A.J. (Andrew Ramirez-Urbina, MCAS ’19) loves extreme sports. Dr. Warren (Erin McGarvey, MCAS ’16) is a suicidal dentist. Doris (Colleen Doyle, MCAS ’19) and Cloris (Casey Mahalik, MCAS ’18) are elderly conjoined twins—Doris a prim and proper British lady and Cloris a foul-mouthed alcoholic. Anna and Teddy Roberts (Christian Moro, MCAS ’19) are bickering convicts on the run, whose relationship operates as a thread through the first act of the play.

Harry Gordon, MCAS ’19, played some fun physical comedy as Lommy, a sort of Lenny-meets-Gollum character who referred to himself in the third person and scampered around in socks on the floor. One of the great side bits of the show was when Ramirez-Urbina and Moro fed Lommy crackers off the table in the background. Perhaps because of his charm, Lommy made it to the end with Anna. And he’s prepared. To protect his love, Lommy whipped out a rifle about the size of flag, and accidently shot himself.

Some died off-stage. We hardly knew you Beth (Cassie Dineen, CSOM ’19), who “drowned in the pool.” We missed you Willy (Matt Stolfi, MCAS ’16), you tall pharmaceutical scoundrel. Some died at our feet. Poor Joss (Jakub Frankowicz, MCAS ’16) died the way of Caesar and Jon Snow, only instead of brothers, a bunch of nuns stabbed him into submission. Teddy Roberts, can’t say we were that sad to see you go. Team Anna!

In the end, Anna donned a habit and joined the murderous nuns, fulfilling the title, and the audience may never trust a nun again.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

About Ryan Dowd 120 Articles
Ryan Dowd was the Arts & Review Editor. He's amassed 16,323 (at last count) unread emails. He'll work on it tomorrow. Follow him on Twitter @RPD_1993.