||Catholic School Girls
By Casey Kurtti
Directed by Kimberly M. FisherREVIEW #1 - Northern Lights
By Anne-Margaret Bellavoine
Everything you always suspected, and even worse, in a Catholic girls' education.
wonderful comedy by Casey Kurtti will hit close to home for anyone who grew up surrounded
by the beatifically munificent habits and wimples of half a century ago. If uniforms are still as pleasantly staid and plaid
on contemporary campuses, the teaching nun is a sweet, or not so sweet, memory of the
If the theme will be familiar, the topic may shock staunch believers in its
willingness to tackle the less appetizing aspects of a religious education and its effects
on tender minds.
We follow the lives of Maria Theresa (Darcy Hogan), Elizabeth (Kelly Albano),
Colleen (C.J.) and Wanda (Britt), as they embark on their spiritual and mental education
from first through eighth grade graduation at St. George's School in a suburb in New York
state, with its traditional Polish and Irish immigrants.
In an interesting twist, the program shows the four characters, as well as
Stage Manager Michael Burgess and Director Kimberly M. Fisher, as they were in their
childhood, the better to let you imagine the grown actresses in their pint-size personae.
Each of the girls has her unique personality, evident latent tendencies which are
amply confirmed once puberty hits, from prissy to class clown and dunce. One of the quartet regularly disappears to reappear
as one of the same number of nuns, each also with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies,
such as decrepit Sister Mary Agnes. It's a
co-ed school, but the boys remain invisible albeit often referred to.
In the early grades, the girls are subjected to relentless dogma piped down their
gullible throats, with the resulting bigotry and intolerance toward all non-Catholics. Myth, miracles, and superstition intermingle in the
malleable minds, and get regurgitated in comic diatribes against all the unfortunate
uninitiated, often prodding deep philosophical questions with their unfathomable answers
given a distorted simplification by the little girls.
As they grow up, they begin to question their gobbling the gobbledygook, and, with
impending puberty, gnawing doubts begin to poison and pervert their minds as their bodies
develop with the profound changes harbingers of shameful longings. The mystery of menarche looms, and, with it, the
impending demise childhood versus impending womanhood, and what to do with it vis-à-vis
the male population.
These repressed girls are as insensitive as any 21st century middle schooler. But existential questions become life and death
dramas of the raw intensity characteristic of adolescents since time immemorial. Elizabeth in particular is deeply affected by the
passing of her grandmother and holds God personally accountable for such mindless and
We leave the girls as they are about to embark on the next chapter of their lives,
segregated from the boys into the virginal world of all girls' Catholic high schools, and
from which they will emerge as duly prepped debutantes of impeccable pedigree for stolid
All four actresses give touching performances, spanning child and teenage hood and
With Easter and its graphic portrayal in Mel Gibsons controversial movie,
this selection is serendipitously timely in the issues it raises as it wildly entertains.