Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is a show that had been on my radar for a while. Before its West End transfer it was on at the National Theatre and won the Olivier for best new comedy. When the chance came up to finally see it I seized the opportunity with the excitement of a Scottish Catholic schoolgirl let loose in Edinburgh.
The show revolves around 6 Catholic Schoolgirls from Oban who are in Edinburgh for the day for a choir competition. They have free time when they arrive before the competition and all sorts of chaos ensues.
The cast is made up of the 6 school girls. Along the way they play all the other people they come across on their day, mostly drunken men trying to get into the girls pants although the odd bar tender and fellow classmate make an appearance. Think ‘Bouncers’ (John Godber) but with a thick Scottish accent and more swearing. The cast slip in and out of these roles with ease and I found it surprising easy to follow, an indication as to the strength of the casts physicality.
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour isn’t for the feint hearted however with ‘really really rude language……and sexual references’ (as the warning signs state) taking a prominent part. Many shows like this feel as if bad language is put in there just to shock however Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is written in such a way that it feels as if that is the way the girls talk. At first I struggled with the strong Scottish accents however as the show progressed they either softened or I acclimatised, either way I was able to follow the story.
The music is cleverly interwoven and to describe it as a musical would be inaccurate, it sits more in the play with music category. This is helped by the fact that it is a choir on a trip so you already have the premise firmly established that they can all sing! Boy can they all sing! They are able to sound like angels singing Agnus Dei one moment and belting out ELO songs the next. Their harmony singing itself is impressive and yet in their solo numbers I easily believe that they could front a rock band.
The 6 school girls themselves also have very distinct characters including Karen Fishwick as Kay, the posh one & apparent goody two shoes, Dawn Sievewright as Fionnula who is battling with her sexuality and Isis Hainsworth as Orla, recovering from cancer. Whilst their individual characters are nicely well rounded and watchable the most important thing in Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is the relationship between each other. It is a show with friendship at the heart of it and the interaction between them provides not only the funniest moments but the parts that have stayed with me.
The staging was simple allowing flexibility and a focus on the plot. The band were also on stage which meant that when needed they could interact and helped add to the ‘gig vibe.’ My only query was the use of audience on stage, I was unable to understand this choice as they added nothing there and were never really addressed.
The show is bursting with female energy from the strong cast to the all female 3 piece band alongside a female director. The wonderful thing is that they aren’t held high with unreachable expectations but as unashamedly and unbashed living life to the full with no judgement.