Stage West’s Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act a tip top, fast and funny farce

In this postcard review, Caroline Russell-King takes in Stage West’s latest production.

Show: Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act.

Playwright/composer: Tom Smith.

Production company/theatre space: Stage West.

Length: One act (90 minutes with no intermission).

Genre(s): Farce.

Premise: Two nuns decide to re-start their illicit wine-brewing business and the other members of the convent all chip in to stage a play to raise money for the orphans.

Why this play? Why now?: Farce is ideal dinner theatre comedy and this play rides the success of the Drinking Habits 1.

Curiosities: Since other theatres bill this as a play that runs 20 minutes longer, I wondered if this version was edited. Can a Drinking Habits 3: Holy Smokes (fun with cannabis growing), be far behind?

Notable lines: “I guarantee it’s already been spent,” and, “Snakes!”

Notable writing: It’s impossible not to compare this to the first which was more solid symphony of farcical door slamming. This play within the play has magic hypnosis, narcolepsy stage fright, pregnancy acting, drunk acting, and everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. 

Notable performances: There is the reprise of the holy trinity of talent — Elinor Holt, Esther Purves- Smith and Natascha Girgis.

Notable design/production: Seasoned designers, Anton de Groot (set) and Rebecca Toon (costumes) ride the fine line between not having cheap production values at Stage West and the cheap, cheesy production values in the show within the show.

Notable direction: J. Sean Elliott is Stage West’s resident farceur director who understands that the script can only provide the engine, the director makes sure it’s ready for the grand prix, in tip top condition and fast. 

One reason to see this show: Not since David Armand performed Torn, in his version of Karaoke for the Deaf, has a dumb show been so funny; this is why Girgis wins spontaneous mid-show applause with her routine.

Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act runs at Stage West until April 14.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here