Pitch Perfect meets Train Spotting… confused? At first, so was I! Our ladies of Perpetual Succour is a coming of age piece that not only pushes the boundaries of traditional theatre but demolishes them with a no-holds-barred approach. It’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re fairly relaxed and in the mood for something different, it might just be for you!
On their way to a choir competition in Edinburgh, 6 catholic school girls from Oban spend one wild day in the capital. Adapted by Lee Hall and based on Alan Warner’s novel, The Sopranos, the piece has some incredibly intimate moments which ground the production reminding us that, at its heart, this is the story of a group of girls finding their place in the world. On the other end of the spectrum, the piece is raucously loud, crude and obscene.
Whether or not it’s necessary for the piece to be this crude is a discussion for another time, however, if the intention is to shock or to push boundaries then I have always believed subtlety is an essential factor. Indeed, when the audience are constantly exposed to profanity, the impact begins to wane. That said, perhaps this is a subversion of the usual structure; normally you expect moments of profanity to emerge for dramatic or humourous effect. In this case, the poignant moments are embedded in a nest of obscenity and maybe this actually works to increase the honesty and impact of the sincere moments.
All of that aside, the production value is exceptional and the talent on stage is unquestionable. The vocal numbers are reason enough to see this show! From the delicate harmonies to the belting rock moments, the company have outstanding and diverse voices. A personal favourite of mine was the ensemble performance of ‘Don’t Bring me Down’ which was full of passion and intensity.
The set is quite minimalist and works well given the eclectic nature of the piece. Each of the performers shows extreme versatility swapping between smaller roles and working as an ensemble to drive the energy of the production. The synchronicity and harmony within the company was flawless. In the roles of Fionnula and Kay, Dawn Sievewright and Karen Fishwick deliver, to my mind, the most memorable performances. Equally so is Isis Hainsworth in the role of Orla, who provides one of the most sobering moments of the piece. Caroline Deyga, Kristy MacLaren and Frances Mayli McCann complete the cast and round out this superb ensemble cast, each with stunning vocals and their own story to tell.
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is not a traditional night at the theatre, but then it never claims to be!! Expect ‘too much’ and maybe you’ll find it’s just enough!
Review by Cassandra Griffin
Winner of the 2017 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour transfers to the West End for a strictly limited season following hugely successful runs at the National Theatre, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and a smash-hit UK tour.
From the creator of Billy Elliot (Lee Hall) comes the uplifting and moving story of six Catholic choir girls from Oban, let loose in Edinburgh for one day only. Funny, heartbreaking and raucously rude, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is adapted from Alan Warner’s brilliant novel about six young friends on the cusp of change and is directed by Royal Court Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone.
Featuring the songs of ELO, Our Ladies is a glorious anthem to friendship, youth and growing up disgracefully.
Prepare thyself for 24 hours of holy chaos. Contains singing, hilarity, Sambuca and strong language.
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Duke of York’s Theatre
45 St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4BG