Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have had impure thoughts about Padre Rodolfo, just as he predicted, and I wasn’t even sad to hear about his wife getting killed in a horrible cheese-related accident. But, in my defense, Ciarán Dowd as Padre Rodolfo has sinned tonight, too.
He can perform an exorcism on me anytime!
First sin: it is common curtesy to let the audience know beforehand if the show is still work in progress. There was nothing about this in the catalogue and the ten-pound ticket price certainly did not suggest it. Dowd was still very much trying out new material for his Edinburgh show, delivering his lines straight from the script. Second sin: even if you are doing work in progress, you should not end the set by stating ‘that’s all I have written so far’. The audience deserves a proper finish for the show. Finally the ultimate sin: he laughed at his own jokes.
So why the four stars, you may ask. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the Irish accent. Or maybe the show was so funny precisely because it was work in progress. The more Dowd messed up his lines and fumbled with the script, the more the late night crowd howled and rolled in laughter. His on-the-spot review process was some of the best audience participation I have experienced for a long time. As no subject matter was too sacred for Padre Rodolfo, it was also a blessing to know that not all jokes make it to the final material.
So I’ll forgive him. There is no doubt that Ciarán Dowd is a talented character comedian. Part of the acclaimed comedy group BEASTS, Ciarán was also the winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer last year. He has the same dark and twisted twinkle in his eye as Euron Grayjoy from Game of Thrones. When he said ‘some call me padre, some call me daddy’, I believed him as the self-proclaimed slayer of men, layer of women that never really got the hang of celibacy. He can perform an exorcism on me anytime!
The horror genre has provided an endless line of one-dimensional catholic priest characters. Although referencing heavily The Exorcist, Padre Rodolfo was not one of them. Other evident influences were Sister Act and Harry Potter, which brings us to the owl, Rodolfo’s only companion on stage. The owl had an important task of delivering messages from the Pope, if it could only remember them correctly. This demented creature would surely have failed the Hogwarts messenger owl entrance test. However, the owl tied the script nicely together and provided some surprise twists along the road.
So the verdict is four Hail Marys for Ciarán Dowd. Go see him and you shall receive absolution.