Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

Swearing more than a band of sailors, the cast of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour present an entirely candid portrait of female teenage sexuality and lives. Based on Alan Warner’s novel The Sopranos, Lee Hall’s adaptation follows six girls from the titular school during a 24-hour stint in Edinburgh, ostensibly for a choir competition but in reality to 'go mental'. 

An exciting, touching, and engaging piece of theatre.

And mental they go: these girls make the girls of St Trinian’s look positively tame. Following the girls from seedy bar to seedy bar, revelations about cancer, coming out, alcohol poisoning, sex, and lots of Sambuca make up the plot: there is no teenage issue left unmined in the production.

The play-with-songs form suits the plot perfectly. The narrative is peppered with songs from Mendelssohn to E.L.O., and Martin Lowe’s arrangements are perfectly performed by the cast, a version of Mr Blue Sky being a particular highlight. Accompanied by the excellent three-piece onstage band, every member of the cast has a fine voice, equally impressive when singing the classical choral songs and the modern.

The cast of six are strong actors, grappling admirably with the tens of different roles each of them plays. Melissa Allan makes a strong debut as Orla, her every movement that of a vulnerable, inexperienced teenager. But it is Karen Fishwick who stands out – not only as posh Kay, but also in her convincing roles as depressed divorcee and the frankly terrifying choir mistress.

Whilst there is much to admire in the production, Hall’s adaptation feels overlong and runs the risk of simply being a list of clichéd teenage woes. Quite simply, there is a lot packed into the narrative’s 24-hour period. However, Vicky Featherstone’s direction is pacy and this helps move the plot along.

With a uniformly talented cast, an unapologetic attitude to presenting the lives and desires of 16-year-old women, and excellent musical arrangements, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is an exciting, touching, and engaging piece of theatre. 

Reviews by Joanna Bowman

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Traverse Theatre

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

★★★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

Catholic schoolgirls go wild! The choir trip to the capital goes badly wrong. Funny, sad and raucously rude. A play about singing, sex and sambuca. Six girls on the cusp of change. Love, lust, pregnancy and death all spiral out of control in a single day. A musical play about losing your virginity and finding yourself. Vicky Featherstone directs with Billy Elliot author Lee Hall, to create a tribute to being young, lost and out of control.

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