Galleon Theatre Group
Domain Theatre
Until 12 May 2018

Review by Sarah Westgarth

Religion and faith can be a delicate target when it comes to humour. As Lesley Reed says in her Director’s Notes, “there is a fine balance to be achieved in direction and performance in terms of lampooning the hypocrisy of the church yet not offending the faithful.” Galleon’s production of ‘Incorruptible’ manages to find that balance well, mining laughs from the absurdity of the character’s actions, but without being mean spirited or overly cynical. ‘Incorruptible’ never feels heavy or depressing, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. As a result, the play is a feel-good romp, brought to life by a solid ensemble cast.

Set in Priseaux, France in 1250 AD, ‘Incorruptible’s action takes place in a ramshackle monastery, a holy place that homes the bones of Saint Foy. Unfortunately, she hasn’t performed a miracle in years, and the church is falling apart. The abbot Charles (Peter Davies), is positive the Lord will provide for them in time; meanwhile Brother Martin (Andrew Clark) is making plans to eat their donkeys, Brother Felix (Josh van’t Padje) is struggling to keep his mind off the fairer sex, and Brother Olf (Matthew Chapman) has discovered a dead body. When it seems like things could not be grimmer, the monks have an encounter with a shady one-eyed minstrel named Jack (Andy Steuart), and a plan to get back in the miracle game is formed. Exploring ideas like the power of belief, and the nature of virtue, and whether noble intentions can ever justify less-than-noble actions, Michael Hollinger’s script is witty and insightful, and Lesley Reed does excellent work bringing it to life.

The play has no singular leads, and each member of the ensemble gets a chance to shine. As a whole, the show has been cast well, with all the actors bringing their own quirks and unique voices to the characters. Davies balances Charles’s internal struggle between his vice and his virtue, Padje is adorably sweet as Felix, and Steuart brings the appropriate amount of sleaze and simplicity to the role of Jack. Maxine Grubel, Ashley Penny, and Lindy Le Cornu all make their mark in the three female roles, with Le Cornu in particular stealing the spotlight as soon as she enters. Matthew Chapman as Olf is a consistent performance, but the decision to have him portray his simple mindedness by talking slowly doesn’t really work, as it falls out of the step with the sharp pace of the rest of the ensemble’s dialogue, and means a lot of the jokes fall flat. The stand-out of the cast is Andrew Clark as Brother Martin, who gets the most laughs of the night due to his pitch-perfect timing, subtle characterisation, and thorough command of the character’s cynicism and desperation.

There are a couple of weak spots; some of the dialogue becomes unintelligible due to the speed at which it’s delivered and some difficulty with the accents, and there were a few dropped lines on opening night. Not all of the jokes land as well as they could, but the vast majority do, and as a whole Reed has directed the show superbly, bringing out both the humorous and the heartfelt moments. The show’s design is brilliant, with an absolutely beautiful set with delightful attention to detail, and the sound design is exquisitely executed.

‘Incorruptible’ is a cracker of a show; it moves at a rip-roaring pace without a dull moment, and while it’s first and foremost a comedy—and a truly hilarious one at that—it also touches on some pertinent questions about faith, morality, and truth. Galleon has produced quite a little gem with this one.