Stone Revellers went to Craggy Island last week as they took on cult comedy classic Father Ted. Review by SALLIE TAMS
Like many other people, I was very disappointed last year when Stone Revellers had to cancel the much anticipated performance of Father Ted, none more so probably than the cast and crew who had worked so hard on the production and must have been devastated at its cancellation. It was a delight this year then when they announced it would be their early summer production and tickets were quickly obtained.
I am always struck by just how successfully Stone Revellers can pack content into their productions and equally how they can transform the limited space at St Michael’s Hall into a working auditorium. In addition, for this production they also managed to deliver a hot supper to a full house in a very timely and efficient way. The level of organisation necessary to pull all this off could likely put many professional companies to shame.
Father Ted was an ambitious show blending at least three episodes of the much loved TV show Father Ted: The Passion of Saint Tibulus, A Song for Europe and Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Arse! For a relatively small cast this meant a great deal of hard work.
The physical and vocal resemblances to the original TV cast were spot on. Father Jack (John Wright), a wonderful mixture of the slightly malevolent, slightly sneaky and totally gross looked like semi-recumbent landfill. John Wright did a great job with this character conveying so much with so few actual words and so many variable grunts. Sweet, amiable Father Dougal (Alec Voss), presented the very convincing demeanour of someone who had permanently lost the plot, if indeed he had ever been in possession of it, the perfect foil to the deftly played Father Ted (Tom Waldron).
In equal measures harassed and hopeful, Father Ted ever fearful of incurring the wrath of Bishop Brennan and ever so slyly sogging back a quick ciggy and a shot of Father Jack’s brandy was perfect. Quite naturally Ted & Dougal were adept in becoming lightning rods for the Bishop’s rage to the extent of being threatened with banishment and this presented something of a problem for Dougal who feared he couldn’t even spell the Phillipines much less go there. Mrs Doyle (Tracey Brough-Chesters) was a treat, replete with enormous mole and an expert in passive-aggressive persuasion who could ever refuse a cup of tea from Mrs Doyle? Many have tried, few have succeeded. Bishop Brennan (Mike Duckworth) was truly a little scary and a tad on the slimy side too.
The main characters were well supported by Simon Hills who made the remarkable transformation from Mrs Glynn to Father Cyril & Jessup and delivered some zinging one-liners dripping in sarcasm although he did get locked in a cupboard for his efforts. Michael Kelly had the somewhat oily Father Dick Byrne off to a T. Mike Meir as Pat/Charles Hedges, Dennis Abbott as Cocheese/Fred Rickwood and Nicola Abbott as Mrs Sheridan all equally impressive. Off-stage credits are Lucy Wild and David Bigger as a mother and son and the very excellent Pablo as Lovely Horse.
A testament no doubt to a hardworking props/ joinery team there were some ingenious scene changes including a revolving backdrop which switched seamlessly from the living room to Ted and Dougal’s bedroom complete with Father Dougal’s Sponge Bob duvet cover; the Fathers cocooned in their respective beds like a pair of clerical-collared caterpillars.
The standout scene of the production, for me was the trio of Fathers Ted and Dougal with Mrs Doyle with their rendition of Fascinating Aida’s Cheap Flights (I do hope somebody puts it up on YouTube because it deserves a wider audience), this was side-splittingly funny and Mrs Doyle was hilarious.
The whole cast performed a jig routine at the end as they came on to take a much deserved bow and I was sorry to see that Tracy Brough-Chesters wasn’t among them as she deserved a huge round of applause, however I later learned that she has been injured the previous night and was unable to do the jig. What an absolute trooper, there was no sign whatsoever in her performance.
I have to make a special mention also of the work which has clearly gone into the program produced as a full parish magazine, well done all involved, what a novel idea.
In an adaptation full of fecks and fun, the hardworking company definitely delivered a very entertaining performance in what was probably the hottest week of the year.
The next production will be The Real Thing (7th – 10th September) and as always if you fancy getting involved Stone Revellers would like to hear from you: email@example.com