I always thought that nuns have it pretty good. After all, black is the most slimming of colours, and even the worst home-perm disaster remains unremarked upon when hidden under a habit. But let’s face it: being married to Christ is a perfectly lovely idea until you realize there ain’t gonna be nothing going on south of the border that isn’t menstrual or bathroom-related.
So it makes sense that even the most saintly of nuns needs a holiday once in a while, as occurs in Tom Walmsley’s new play, The Nun’s Vacation. The piece poses that timeless question: “How do you believe in God and still get laid?”
Sister Shannon is a sheltered nun who has spent most of her adult life in a quiet convent contemplating the mysteries of life and spirituality. Oh, and tonguing a little labia as well. She’s been involved in a confusing but rewarding liaison with fellow postulant Rose for quite some time, but as their illicit relationship begins to unravel, Shannon feels the need to escape the safe confines of her order and discover her true nature.
“It’s her first time experiencing real hurt and conflict,” says Sandy Duarte, who plays Shannon. “She’s discovered love for the first time, but because of her religion and faith there’s an internal struggle with her heart loving someone it shouldn’t.”
Enter ex-priest Brody, long-time friend to Shannon and now a psychiatrist living in Toronto. Brody (Glen Matthews) doffed the collar upon accepting his own homosexuality. Shannon races to his unsuspecting arms, hoping to trade her confused lesbian nun-hood for a seemingly uncomplicated life as a complacent (and, hopefully, sexually fulfilled) wife and mother.
Of course, Brody has no idea of his friend’s plan, distracted as he is by a hunky bi-curious client named Pierce (Stephen Chambers). The shrink finds himself both startled and dangerously aroused when his patient confesses to feeling some sexual curiosity toward other men.
“I basically play the character with a raging boner,” laughs Matthews. “Brody’s borderline ravenous, after being a priest for so long and now leading a reserved day-to-day life as a serious professional.”
Tensions mount as a sexual triangle intensifies, with Shannon wanting Brody, Brody wanting Pierce, and Pierce willing to settle for either.
“It’s a classic farce, really,” Matthews says. “But there’s also this underlying theme that adds God and really interesting discussions around sexuality. It’s kind of like Three’s Company if it were produced by HBO.”