A Celebration Of Father Ted at Sale's Refract Festival? You Decide

Pete Devine highlights: "There’s winging it and then there’s winging it"
July 28, 2022

AS the son of two first generation migrant farmers from remote areas of the Irish Republic I thought I was in for a treat at the Refract Festival at Sale’s Waterside Theatre.

A night re-living the iconic TV series Father Ted through the eyes of actor, musician and comedian Joe Rooney seemed like an ideal opportunity to listen to some of the banter and humour my late parents visited on me.

What was there not to like about the series and watching Joe, who played the young raucous Catholic priest Father Damo, who starred in the series episode The Old Grey Whistle Theft?

Now there’s winging it and then there’s winging it, but if truth be told it was a bit of a mash up of a performance which started late, (true to most Irish gatherings), but it then became a bit surreal as something in sound department failed, leaving Joe leaping on stage unannounced, but then introducing himself, ahead of showing the full episode he had formerly appeared in.

Although I had seen most of the episodes of the show, half way through this one the gremlins struck again, at which point Joe and his audience was left to try to figure out what was going to happen next.

I loved the confusion and the humour which emanated from it, but it was seriously hard to follow from that point onwards as to what was happening as he tried to rescue his routine by bringing forward the second half into the first.

As we had only been watching for 20 odd minutes the audience had not really warmed up sufficiently as he held a fairly hurried question and answer on Father Ted, which was interesting but lacked a few more details, before he barrelled onwards by getting three members of the audience up to do a silly Ted dance routine, before then asking them to compete against one another to prepare a sandwich, but not in the style of housekeeper Mrs Doyle. 

Before the sandwich making got properly underway, disaster nearly struck again as he manhandled the delicate trolley on stage with plates and sandwiches heading for a fall, before he miraculously saved the day and the performance.

Mercifully, we did get to see the second part of the episode and things came to a natural ending with humorous songs and observational laughs, which the fans in the audience lapped up.