Hearing a couple of priests swearing will always be amusing. Hearing a couple of priests swearing whilst digging up the body of a dead parishioner so they can sell the corpse to raise money for the church takes the humour to a whole new level.
A clever premise and a fun script
Rafael Aptroot and Jack Read play priests George and Charlie with a great deal of charm and humour. There is a contrast between their characters, as well as a running gag about taking the Lord’s name in vain, which provides consistent laughter throughout. The play follows their life of crime as told through a series of flashbacks, as the sergeant (Rebecca Emerson-Gold) explains to her colleague (Sahnun Omar) how she came to catch the pair. Although some of these interview scenes seemed a little short, especially considering the transitions before and after them, the decision to tell the story in this way meant that while we sympathised with our reluctant, awkward anti-heroes, we were also eager to find out exactly how the police caught up with their scheme.
Subsequent to digging up a body and a debate aabout predestination and what happens after we die, we then see when the two priests first met - introduced to each other at a funeral by Father Victor (Jack Elmore). Elmore also plays the hapless Neil, a student of the professor to whom the priests sell the corpses, and his physicality in his portrayal of each character is particularly impressive. Sophie Welbourne and Sahnun Omar also play two roles, and should be commended for their versatility.
This being said, Elmore’s portrayal of Father Victor was the first indication I had of the play’s increasingly farcical nature. Although the script overall was entertaining with continued twists and turns that led to unexpected places – a mob boss in Wigan, anyone? – the initial clever back and forth between George and Charlie gradually gave way to more slapstick moments. This was a little disappointing considering the play’s unusual premise and the witty back and forth that had been built up thus far.
Events take a suitably dark and unexpected turn as the play reaches its denouement, and the case of the body-snatching priests is resolved. Jack Fairhurst should be commended for a clever premise and a fun script, and the cast and crew of Brick Fox should be proud to have brought such an innovative piece to the Fringe for their first original show. I look forward to seeing more of their work in future.