Luke Devenish


Lamalou-les-Bains, France, somewhere in the early 20th century…

When Mother Superior Marie du Sacré-Coeur’s invigorating practice of “finding the faults” in her Novice Mistress, Sister Clotilde, abruptly dries up, the latter is left bereft.

But when mysterious evidence arrives suggesting Mother Marie might well be finding the faults elsewhere, furious Sister Clotilde claims the moral high ground.

Enlisting exiled Sister Placide into her scheme to expose the straying Superior, the resulting uproar sees the Delicate Sisters of the Tiny Hands Convent flung into the sordid cells of the Scrubber Sisters of the Soiled Pantaloons and the sadistic excesses of the Abbess Émelie.

The result is a maelstrom of ever more erring ecclesiastics, which only goes to prove in the end that they are all but God’s vessels on the violent voyage to humility.

This comedy’s genesis comes from my ongoing playwright’s exploration of queering old theatrical and cinematic forms. In this case, two particularly disparate forms have been queered together in a sandwich: the boulevard farces of Georges Feydeau and nunsploitation movies. Perhaps not every playwright would endeavour to go there, but I have. With relish.

My intention is not only to subvert authority and sexuality, as farce traditionally does, but to subvert the heterosexual norm that farce traditionally upholds.

In this play the objects of liturgical lust are, refreshingly, not children and innocents, but fellow ecclesiastics. The world of Nunsploitation is filled to bursting with the randy religious, all of whom are rooting each other to ruination.

Scratch the paint and the Feydeau undercoat will show – Georges has been particularly generous in structure, device and tone. Scratch it some more and lurid shockers like The Lady of Monza and Flavia the Heretic will expose themselves. There is demonic possession, lesbianism, bizarre acts of God, and speaking in tongues to be found here. All the fun things.

This is a play where surface and subtext are in perpetual stand-off. What we’re hearing may not be what is actually being said in this play, and what we’re seeing might actually concern something else entirely.

If you would like to read Nunsploitation, contact me here.