Forget your hotel room in France with the three sofas and no way out. The site of the afterlife for these two bishops from the Catholic Church's most scandalous age is the still-standing cathedral in which they originally held office. It seems a comfortable way to spend eternity, even if Brother Gandolf and Brother Anselm have some surrogate father-son issues left unresolved. But then their chummy bickering is disrupted by the entrance of a recently deceased matron, felled by a stroke on a Chicago golf course circa 2000, whose colorful history raises suspicions that she might be The Boss Himself, traveling incognito.
The first act of James C. Wall's Sanctuary ( not to be confused with the novel by William Faulkner ) is a pleasant, if protracted, noodle in the Mel Brooks/Carl Reiner "2,000-Year-Old Man" mode. His 16th-century Odd Couple's banter encompasses laughs scholarly, juvenile and topical ( the church janitor's newspaper keeps them apprised of world events, you see ) . And Mrs. Dorothy's former profession as the owner of a Louisiana roadhouse-cum-cathouse even leads the three of them, at one point, to a jug-band rendition of a ribald blues ditty.
But then Wall has to get serious, disclosing secrets kept hidden by these roommates for 500 years ( suspend that disbelief, folks ) . The inventory includes dirty deeds motivated by lust, intrigue, deception, lust, arson, abuse of power, and lust, culminating in an auto-outing that comes off less the logical outcome of what we know of these personalities than a last resort on the playwright's part to escalate our horror at the corruption of People In High Places...an impression heightened by the swiftness with which Dorothy is dismissed after serving her function as the plot's catalyst.
Making this innocuous exercise tolerable...and, at times, even entertaining...are Todd C. Cornils and John Simmons' cheerful Oscar-and-Felix dynamic, and Ann Followill forges what character she can from the sketchily written Dorothy. Jeanne Wall's direction augments the action with plenty of sight gags...who hasn't imagined playing miniature golf with altar trappings? And when this is insufficient, we can always admire Robert A. Knuth's exquisite set, within whose tastefully outfitted, vaguely Deco confines anyone would be honored to offer up a paternoster or two.