Forgive Us, Oh Father!

I think this show is emblematic of a lot of the problems that new musicals at the Fringe tend to have. It’s entertaining, and has a fun concept that, at its core, leads to an hour that has some funny, interesting moments. But it doesn’t execute on that concept anywhere near enough for it to be anything more than average. Forgive Us, Oh Father, is a simple, cute show that could be worth your time, if only it kept up with or iterated on its better moments.

Fundamentally, I believe this show mis-manages its strengths.

Father Stephen-Peter is a catholic priest of an English town whose good nature is only matched by his laziness. While he wants to sit and do Sudoku puzzles, his parish is in dire need of his advice. Each person that comes to him comes with a different, ridiculous problem. Can’t stop having affairs? Go to the priest. Need to close down the only factory in the town to make a profit? See Father Stephen-Peter. This advice seeking, and the unintended consequences of that advice, is how most of the show constructs itself, and whether or not it works depends a lot on its characters. Scenes with the adulterous mother, for example, are mostly great because of who she is. Those with her husband, a very thinly veiled Trump joke, work less well. This is all held together by Stephen-Peter himself, whose loveable-loser-like charm makes the absurdity of his situation both funny and relatable.

While the core loop of this show - Father gives advice, sing a song, advice is misinterpreted - usually works, it suffers from issues of execution. In addition to some of the characters not having the charm of others, those who do are overexposed, or move away from the simple characterizations which made them entertaining in the first place. The music, while for the most part entertaining and simple, often overwhelmed the unamplified vocals, which struggled during more complex songs and higher notes. Performances were similarly uneven, although this is more of a flaw in the writing than anything else. Inconsistencies in writing and direction made it difficult for actors to be secure in their characterisation even when they were attempting to maintain credibility.

Fundamentally, I believe this show mis-manages its strengths. The best parts were always introducing a new character and a new sin and having the father bumble his way around it. While these often did not work, when they did, those moments were not only functional, they were downright enjoyable. However, they were too few and far between to carry this show above average. 

Reviews by Miles Hurley

ZOO Charteris

The Forecast

★★
theSpace @ Niddry St

Much Ado About Nothing

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Dandy Darkly's All Aboard!

★★★★
Roundabout @ Summerhall

Drip

★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Working Class Hero

★★
Summerhall

Closed Doors

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

The laziest priest on earth ends up in purgatory and must convince the archangels he belongs in Heaven. However, his spiritual advice to parishioners caused a chain reaction with grave consequences. Will he be forgiven? Forgive Us, Oh Father! is the catchiest new musical at the Fringe. The angelic harmonies will keep you humming for several days. You’ll be hooked from the moment the lights come down. Written by Arnoud Breitbarth and Harry Style, first performed in Leeds to standing ovations. Not seeing this show is a sin!