Interview by Peter Grant
Alan Stocks confesses all to Peter Grant about his alter ego Father O’Flaherty – the star of the Royal Court’s smash hit production (four stars Wirral Globe) Praise be!
Actor Alan Stocks is a happy man. He is a stalwart of the Royal Court’s on stage success story. The key to his current theatrical contentment, he says, is that he is blessed by the company he keeps. ”It is great fun working with friends. ”I can be very comfortable on stage. We all get on well off stage, too. ”You trust the other actors to get you through, even if things go wrong.”
Now it’s time to talk about clerical errors. There is a certain character who has a place in his heart. A creation he has religiously fleshed out . . . Father O’Flaherty. A loose canon, so to speak, in his own divine comedy. The hilarious rebel first appeared in the hit Royal Court show ”Merry Ding Dong” by top local writer Fred Lawless and went on to appear in other smash hit shows such as ”Scouse Pacific and Mam.I’m ‘Ere” Audiences loved Father O’s outrageous maverick antics, drunken rambling sermons, poking fun at the Church (all in the best possible taste) and the local life around him.
Now his bishop has heard bad reports and is unforgiving. He wants him out – so it’s down to one last chance to amass his resources but does he have a saving grace for his Grace? The tipsy father has to save his own soul as well as others. Alan, 48, says: ”It was so much fun to see this new character find his voice and run riot.” So is the holy man based on any one he has come across? ”All the priests I have known are the complete opposite of Father O’Flaherty. Intelligent and serious, but I hope that there is a Father O out there somewhere!”
Alan has his own favourite portrayal of priests. ”It has to be Father Ted. ”Great scripts, brilliant actors. Father O’Flaherty is basically a cocktail of all three priests in that show put together. But Dave Allen was a hero too.”
This is a big show for Alan not only has he donned the cassock as the lead role in the play but he has written it. ”As an actor you are always telling other people’s stories. ”It’s great to tell a tale of your own and and see it come to life.”
Kevin Fearon, Executive Producer at the Royal Court praises his lost son “Father O’Flaherty is one of our favourite characters audiences fall about laughing whenever he is on. ”Initially we were talking to Alan about writing a one-hour comedy based around the character but when I read it I immediately wanted more so now it is a full-length show.”
Adds Alan: ”There’s not much pressure because I know I have the right people backing me up.”
After the run which ends on November 12 Alan is clear about his next project. He looks upwards and laughs: ”Getting back into God’s good books!”
Apart from his loyal fans, who love this dubious man of the cloth who, according to Alan, will this comedy show appeal to? ”Sinners – basically everyone who has ever been to the Royal Court. ”If you love a fun night out at the theatre, with a bevy in front of you, come and see this play. ”If you like it, tell your friends… ”Go forth brothers and sisters and spread the word of O’Flaherty! ”
Standing ovations already in the bag – it’s a case of . . . .Amen!