Hunter rates it:
Life is made up of small miracles, and Vincent Lacey and Natalie Sullivan perform one over the course of their very funny new show about Catholicism. They manage to claim their subject matter – they are Catholics fully, wholeheartedly – and still keep their knives sharp for satirizing the world of the church. What emerges is a fast, bizarre, almost-over-the-top-but-not-too-much evening of sketch comedy.
Comic duos need rapport, but they also need playable character differences. After all, who wants a jelly and jelly sandwich? Lacey and Sullivan hit the nail on the head – she’s a narrow-eyed deadpan joke ninja, he’s a bug-eyed courageous goofball – and their unlikely camaraderie charms us even on the infrequent occasion when a joke falls flat or a scene trails off into sketch oblivion.
The opening of the show is comprised of rapid-fire micro-scenes, the stage lights going up and down every ten or fifteen seconds. It’s a Second City styling, and fellow Chicago comedians Lacey and Sullivan command the format nicely. Quickly the show settles into slightly longer scenes, many of which poke fun at the insular thinking of some Catholic educators (a teacher tries to put on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Catholic school; the principal has few opinions about setting a musical in the Middle East) as well as the Church’s sometimes-woeful attempts to reach out to youth populations (a happy couple doing some “door-to-door faithing” tries to bill their Blessed Sacrament parish as “The Blessed Sac”).
Audiences are guaranteed to be of mixed faiths, and Hopelessly Devoted finds a nice level on which to communicate, referencing accessible, famous stories without dumbing down the Bible. God, accepting applause at a roast, apologizes to certain “createes” at the party for his moments of bad judgment (heavy on the Old Testament, of course), but admits that “in the end, it just took having a kid to turn it around for me.”
The two are accompanied by Sarah Fridich, a local musician, on keyboard. Fridich is a delightful addition to the show, standing in for an organist in the prologue and later doing backup for a moderately embarrassing rap sequence (“When I say FATHER, you say SON!”). It’s a shame she doesn’t show up more, since her light sonic touch does wonders for setting the scene and keeping the slapdash proceedings from completely spinning apart.
A few personal anecdotes and contemplative monologues block the flow a bit, but Hopelessly Devoted never stumbles. Lacey and Sullivan avoid contemporary scandals entirely (no tired jokes about altar boys lighting candles – dare I say hallelujah?) and they steer clear entirely of the sour and cynical. The evening’s a great success, full of weird, loopy, transcendent moments and unforced laughter. Finally – we don’t have to be quiet at church!
Written and performed by Vincent Lacey and Natalie Sullivan, with music by Sarah Fridich
Produced by Joseph Price
Directed by Anthony LeBlanc
Reviewed by Hunter Styles