Holy Sh*t performed by Royal Holloway student company Brick Fox and written by Jack Fairhurst, has all the essential ingredients for a black comedy: two priests, two shovels and a dead body. And so we are introduced to Charlie (Jack Read) and George (Rafael Aptroot), both priests in a highly impoverished parish, who’ve come up with the novel idea to generate much needed funds by selling bodies a la Burke and Hare. George is of a nervous disposition and Aptroot plays this well, representing a much more archetypal priest than Charlie, who is definitely not cut from the same cloth. He is a good foil for George, who as things turn out, is perhaps less holy than Charlie!
The play starts well and there is some interesting philosophical debate about pre-destination versus free will, before the comedy descends into the slightly farcical, verging on slapstick. What was at a stretch vaguely believable, becomes utterly ludicrous. A local mobster decides she wants to use the graveyard for body storage and one of the only parishioners – a busy body, Miss Marple type, (well portrayed by Sophie Welbourne), discovers the priests’ nefarious activities and is promptly dispatched with a spade.
The scenes sometimes feel a little too short and the interviews with the detective Rebecca Emerson-Gold, are a touch comic. (Although Emerson Gold comes into her own in the denouement scene). A cardboard cut out of Angela Merkel introduces a completely bizarre, but highly comedy moment, before a body literally falls out of a cupboard.
As original student theatre, Holy Sh*t should be commended and is a good giggle. Some of the jokes are very topical, whilst others are more student slapstick fodder, but the overall package is enjoyable and innovative. The Edinburgh Fringe should never be all about the polished professionals, long may we see student theatre venturing north to tread the boards