Wracked by guilt for their pivotal roles in driving a young girl to martyrdom, the Virgin Mary, Jesus, the Archangel St Michael and the Devil attempt to explain their own actions through reenacting the life of Peru's patron saint.
But is what we're seeing a reenactment or the hallucinatory visions of St Rose herself, living her life of extreme self-denial in a doomed quest to get closer to God?
The divine storytellers career the play to hysteria, forcing the comedy to implode in black tragedy. Any sense of reality is banished as the audience finds itself woven in a dream-like web; a World Book Encyclopedia entry on Peru, torn out and nailed to the Sunday School floor.
St Rose of Lima is a divinely orchestrated, 1950s nativity play within a completely human portrayal of suffering.
First produced by Kickhouse Theatre for the Melbourne Fringe Festival, and then for the Sydney Festival at the Performance Space. Directed by Julian Meyrick, designed by Louise McCarthy, with a cast including Louise Fox, Paul Capsis, Matthew Beer and Angie Quick.
Nomination Green Room Award for Best New Australian Play
"Was St Rose one of God's chosen, or a disturbed young woman in need of a good therapist? Did she have visions of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, or did her ascetic regime cause her to hallucinate? Luke Devenish's excellent black comedy raises these questions and intentionally leaves them unanswered. This ambiguity is one of the play's anchoring strengths... Dramatical collaborations which call on such a diversity of forms and objects rarely unfurl with as much cohesion and disciplined theatrical daring as this one does. Indeed, St Rose of Lima is one of the best pieces of alternative, home-grown theatre I have seen for ages, and it shouldn't be missed."
"Devenish's deliberately non-naturalistic approach takes a broad view that incorporates a sharp wit with touches of high-camp tastelessness. It is accessible as well as imaginative and inventive."
"Luke Devenish gets carried away with his multimedia production, his absurdity and anachronism. He milks it all to the hilt. He takes it and stretches it until it snaps. And it does snap. Each big bang creating a whole new universe - a whole new way of looking... The talent and energy was almost too much. The audience would not stop clapping. This is a play that cannot be missed."
"This is a singular and refreshing modern play given an ingenious and dynamic production... Every time you think you know where the play is heading it careers off in a new direction... St Rose of Lima is highly recommended for lapsed Christians and other lovers of innovation in the theatre."
The Melbourne Times
"Was she a psychologically disturbed child? Or was she merely a joke? Devenish's script refuses to make the distinction and vacillates between satirical send up and and straight drama. In doing so it offers some hilarious scenes and some very funny lines."
The Melbourne Report