There’s nothing like opening a musical with an old man being beaten to death. Father Stephen-Peter is unceremoniously set upon by an anonymous rabble and, upon expiring and meeting a gang of sassy archangels, is informed that he’s stuck in limbo until they figure out whether he’s destined for heaven or hell.
Rewind to his final days and the angelic inquest uncovers the criss-crossing storylines of Stephen-Peter’s parishioners, including their canonically sinful behaviour (lust, greed, envy), the lazy priest’s role in it all and why they might have seen fit to murder him.
The plot is complicated without being complex, and as such unfolds relatively predictably – so it’s down to the cast and the music to save it from its formula. Fortunately, and despite appearances, the production is remarkably professional, with barely a line out of place and delivered with the elan of a solidly competent triple-threat troupe. Only rarely does the singing falter, and though the numbers themselves aren’t showstoppers, the band is tight and an excellent accompaniment to the onstage action.
Eschewing head mics—or any amplification for the cast—means that some lines are lost to the instruments, especially as not every player is able to project as well as the others. But the songs ably progress the story and we get the gist, the hour comfortably galloping along. There remain some questions about Stephen-Peter’s motivations (less a criticism of the actor and more the dizzying narrative), but as a quick and cheerful farce, Forgive Us, Oh Father! is a well-rounded musical that has more than a few thighs being slapped in glee.