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Nunsense
 
30/08/2001
KLue
YOU GO, SISTER!
By Juliana Choo

52 nuns from the Kampung Pandan Catholic School are dead from eating tainted tom yam soup. Owing to a lack of funds, only 48 have been buried, and the remaining four have been stuffed into the freezer in the meantime. To raise the money, the surviving sisters have decided to put on a benefit performance and what you get is, well, a lot of nunsense.

Dan Goggin's Nunsense isn't strictly nonsensical, but it does come pretty close. As you'd expect from a musical comedy, it's light-hearted, good-natured fun with super-catchy tunes. It's nothing you've not seen before; after all, the "singing and dancing nun thing" has already been done years earlier by Hollywood and Broadway.

Whether or not you'd enjoy the humour here is highly subjective. It's not exactly cutting edge, and although there are a couple of decent jokes in there, most of the funny bits are made up of clichéd jokes that sound vaguely familiar. Starting off with a song about how even nuns can be quite risqué, you'd find that they're risqué only in a very "family entertainment" sense. And the jokes about Sister Mary Amnesia's (Cheah Siew Oui) forgetfulness does wear thin after hearing it for the 15th time.

That being said, it would seem that's the sort of humour most people like, as evidenced by the many audience members guffawing and slapping their knees in uncontrolled mirth. Admittedly, it's rather priceless to see the usually regal Mother Superior (played excellently by Shanthini Venugopal) rolling on the floor, high on Feng Tao airplane glue, but although the gag has its chuckle-worthy moments, it goes on for a bit too long and stops being funny after a while. But watch out for Sister Mary Leo's (Zoe Christian) ballet solo in "Soup's On (The Dying Nun Ballet)," a hilarious spoof of dying characters in typical ballets (that is, those who need half an hour of writhing around the stage before they actually die).

The cast line-up makes the "perfect" motley crew. Mary George as Sister Robert Anne, the tough nut from Sentul, stands out as the most fun here, being everything you never thought a nun could be and George carries this off with a "balls of steel" flair. Only one slight incongruity: Cheah Siew Oui, while perfect in her wallflower role and shining in most of her solo pieces, makes a questionable Nashville-star wannabe ("I Could've Gone to Nashville"), given her classical vocal style.

Halfway through the show, you can tell that the sisters are fast running out of steam, and you wonder if they're going to be able to keep singing and dancing with a smile on their faces, especially under the heavy layers of the nun's habit. Despite that, they do put up a good show, surprising everyone with some rather nifty moves in their dance numbers.

If you're an incurable fan of musicals, catch this. But if you're not, this won't convert you. Still, don't be surprised to find yourself humming the tunes from the show long after you've left the theatre (yes, it's that catchy).