Full-length farce. 5 women, 5 men. Lots of ketchup. Complicated set. (Hey, I'm not lyin' on my own website).
"Stigmata! A Comedy in Three Acts in Two Acts! (With Music!)" answers the age-old question, "What would happen if a pretty, non-Catholic stigmatic, a Lutheran pastor, an axe murderess, a sexist hiker who's allergic to ketchup, an untalented folk-singing former camp counselor, her bitter British friend, an old guy who wants to borrow an axe, a nice, dessert-bearing Lutheran couple and a Forest Ranger Trainee were thrown together one cold and rainy October night in Northeastern Pennsylvania?" The answer to that question is: "Well, this play."
"Stig!" opens at the Good News & Good Times Retreat Center. The retreat center was just the height of fabulousness in the mid- 1970's, and thus features a conversation pit by a fireplace on the ground floor, and three bedrooms (just visible behind their doors upstairs on the balcony). At the beginning of the play, Pastor Francis and Bernadette are staying there as the only participants in a silent retreat. Bernadette seems to suffer from stigmata, and they are there to pray for guidance towards her healing, guidance particularly sought since they are both Lutheran, and do not believe in stigmata. From the beginning, it is clear that Bernadette is desperately in love with Pastor Francis. Soon, they are joined by Shelly and Mike, newlywed hikers who are seeking shelter from the bad weather, as well as from the fearsome axe murderer - or murderess! - on the loose in the area. They're not getting along too well, and unfortunately, Mike seems to pass out whenever Bernadette's stigmata appears. Shelly soon suspects Bernadette's a faker, since Mike is allergic to ketchup. Before long, Gladys and Sunshine, former camp co-counselors on their way to a camp reunion seek shelter at the center as well. Sunshine endears herself to Mike by sharing a song she wrote with him, and a jealous Shelly, already irritated with Mike, plots to kill him. Before she can, Jim, a neighbor, stops by to borrow an axe. Sunshine hitches a ride into town with him to tell the other campers that she and Gladys are not coming, and Mike learns more about Pastor during their subsequent game of "I Spy." All too soon, Jim and Sunshine are back, because Jim's truck engine is flooded. Gladys and Sunshine argue vehemently about folk music and Bernadette's stigmata seems to be clearing up. Alone with Bernadette, Shelly discovers her stigmata is fake, while at the same time, Bernadette discovers Shelly is the axe murderer (kinda). Before either woman can do anything with her new information, Bill and Joyce, parishioners of Pastor Francis's arrive, bearing desserts. By this time, the cabin is a mess of spilled food and blood, and before long, people are falling everywhere. Mike seemingly reveals his attraction to Sunshine, which unsurprisingly turns out to be not a good way to please Shelly. Just as Gladys nearly reveals that Shelly is the axe murderer, Shelly announces that she is an undercover police officer chasing down Bernadette. That's a lie but everyone believes her. Bernadette, trying to flee, breaks her vow of silence. Then the lights go out. A mysterious figure resembling death throws open the door and tells everyone within that he's come to take them away. Pastor speaks. Panic ensues.
And that's just the first act!
The second act opens mere seconds after the first act closes. After much debate and in varying stages of success, everyone flees for their safety to the upstairs bedrooms, and the mysterious figure is shoved outside. He politely and repeatedly asks to be let in, and it's left up to Pastor to discover that the mysterious figure is just Nero Goodblood, a young forest ranger trainee, who's been assigned to take everyone to a safer location. In the meantime, Shelly's recruited Jim to her campaign to expose Bernadette's ploy (although Jim thinks he's part of a campaign to prove that Bernadette is the axe murderess), and Mike, Nero, Joyce and Bill are bonding with Pastor upstairs. Jim, displeased with Shelly's constant demands, exits to Gladys's room. Joyce leaves to get mayonaise to make sandwiches, but denies Shelly a spot in their room. Shelly barrels in to confront Bernadette anyway, and a fight ensues. Shelly exits to the kitchen. Bernadette eventually finds shelter with Gladys and Jim, which is ruined when Sunshine arrives to renew their argument about the relative merits of certain folk songs. Shelly and Jim use Joyce as a hostage to convince Bernadette to reveal her stigmata is fake. This plan does not work very well. As often happens, one thing leads to another, and the whole cast gathers on the balcony and stairs. Bernadette pleads that her stigmata is fake, Shelly insists that she is not the axe murderer, and Joyce falls, majestically, over the balcony and into the conversation pit. Bill, in a rush to rescue her, punches out Shelly and Bernadette, while Mike takes the opportunity to pass out, one last time, from the ketchup. Gladys saves Joyce's sight (by removing a blindfold), and Shelly pulls out Bernadette's elaborate array of tubing to prove the stigmata is fake, which Bernadette finally concedes. In the meantime, everyone admits they don't like Shelly all that much. Pastor chastises both Shelly and Bernadette for their deceptions before having a minor breakdown himself. Bill takes his moment in the spotlight to confirm that the really does love his wife, and Mike, inspired, declares his love for Shelly, who's pouting in a corner. Pastor and Bernadette, after much hemming and hawing, decide to date, and Gladys, pushed to her final limit, reveals her deep love for Sunshine, who reciprocates. Eventually, Shelly apologizes to everyone and she and Mike make up. Jim and Nero stand around awkwardly while everyone else embraces passionately. Nero attempts to evacuate everyone, but none of the vehicles are working, and so everyone settles in for a pleasant night at the Good News & Good Times Retreat Center. A final, beautifully written and heartfelt sung coda bring an end to the whole shebang.
It’s probably just as easy to read the play, but it’s too late for that now, huh? Sorry!