Review: The Nun’s Vacation (Doghouse Riley Productions)

Dora Award-winning Sandy Duarte takes a Nun’s Vacation in Toronto

I’m not quite sure what to say about The Nun’s Vacation. I still have very mixed feelings about it. On one hand I thought it was smart and funny in parts with some great acting, but on the other I felt like I was being hit on the head with the same concept over and over again.

The show is basically about a Catholic nun who is conflicted about her faith and sexuality as she doesn’t know how it all fits into her religion and she’s afraid of an unforgiving, highly judgmental God. She had an ongoing affair with another nun at her convent but has just been dumped, which has shaken her. She is lost and lonely with no one to turn to, so she decides to ‘take a vacation’ and lands up at her gay ex-priest, ex-boyfriend’s house. 

It’s all a twisted love triangle with three characters – the nun, the ex-boyfriend and a dying man – wanting to sleep with the one another.  No one is sure whether they’re gay or straight but for the most part they’re all really caught up with what’s right and wrong. The themes of hell and sin run through the entire play which begs the question, “How do you believe in God and still get laid?”

Halfway through the play I wanted to say, “I get it!” It’s impossible to be a devout Catholic and be sexually liberated to make your own choices, or not be preoccupied by what’s considered sinful and which actions might send you to hell.

The space at the Toronto Free Gallery worked so well for the show. It really gave me the feeling of being in an older Toronto home. The actors enter and exit the performance space by walking through the audience and down a set of stairs. The stage was raised which gave us an unobstructed view.  I also loved the furniture and set design itself. My only criticism would be that the chairs hurt your behind and the seating is quite cramped.

The acting in this show is superb! Dora Award-winning Sandy Duarte does a stunning job as the nun on vacation and shows us a wide range of emotions, making her character multi-faceted and engaging to watch. She gets you on her side and makes you care about her outcome.

For me, Glen Matthews stole the show. Talk about an outstanding performance. He blew me away with his rage and passion.

Stephen Chambers is just gorgeous. My show partner and I spent the rest of the evening having drinks and drooling over him, interrupted by more meaningful conversation of course. I don’t mean to take away from his performance, as it was spot on. Chambers plays a sexually conflicted man awaiting an organ transplant.

I just wish the script was a bit tighter. The dialogue is great, but like I said the show just seems to get a little repetitive and preachy after over an hour. My friend felt exactly the same way.

Overall, I would recommend this show. The acting is of a calibre that you don’t see everyday and the show is entertaining for the most part. The humour is mature and witty and there’s a fair bit of comic relief. And just so you know there’s plenty profanity and a fair bit of nudity.


The Nun’s Vacation is playing at Toronto Free Gallery (1277 Bloor St W) until April 8, 2012
– Shows run daily from March 25 to April 8 at 8pm; additional matinees on March 25 and April 8 at 2pm.
– Tickets are $20
– Tickets are available online or at the door

Photo of Sandy Duarte, Stephen Chambers and Glen Matthews. 


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