Go Medieval 

The road to hell isn't just paved with good intentions in Michael Bollinger's medieval farce Incorruptible, now playing at Theatre in the Square. It's paved with the bones of ordinary people that a medieval French monastery sells as relics of true saints.

Incorruptible's poor monks don't initially mean to commit atrocities. At first, they just struggle to help the hungry, with scarcely enough food for themselves. They even charge the faithful a penny to pray over the bones of Saint Foy, the monastery's only claim to fame.

But when the divine powers of their sacred skeleton fall into doubt, the holy men resort to desperate actions. A bumbling minstrel (Hugh Adams) points out that an anonymous corpse brought to the monastery's cemetery could provide much-needed revenue. "We could sell him for parts!" exclaims profit-minded Brother Martin (Troy Willis). The house of God gradually becomes a kind of trans-European clearinghouse for bogus sacred relics, and the monks venture deeper into an ethical sinkhole to maintain their deception.

The playhouse draws inspiration from Incorruptible's highly original setting. Kathleen McManus' cloddish peasant woman could've stepped from a Brueghel painting, and even the curtain speech comes in the form of a Gregorian chant. The production's bawdy physical comedy, directed by August Staub, isn't always as clever as the script itself. Adams remains an innately likable actor, but the modern-day references in his minstrel routine find few laughs. Incorruptible succeeds not when it jabs our funny bones, but when it keeps a straight face.

Despite its unlikely setting for humor, Incorruptible unfolds as a thematically rich comedy about how easily religious beliefs bow before earthly demands. Brother Martin argues that the more money they have, the more they can aid the poor and glorify God, while the genuinely pious Abbot (David Milford) tries to maintain "deniability" about their actions. Incorruptible even builds to an act of restored faith that's surprisingly moving, given the play's hide-the-body slapstick.

A farce with substance? That truly is a miracle.

Curt.Holman@creativeloafing.comIncorruptible plays through Feb. 27 at Theatre in the Square, 11 Whitlock Ave., Marietta. Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun. 2:30 and 7 p.m. $18-$32. 770-422-8369. www.theatreinthesquare.com.


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