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Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour

Published 11 August 2016

What’s it all about?

Six young, Scottish, seemingly modest Catholic choir girls take to the stage to perform a beautiful acapella rendition of Mendelssohn’s ‘Lift Thine Eyes’. Blending gracefully, harmonies gorgeously balanced, and poises perfectly still, they sonorously melt your ears and hearts… before cutting into one another’s sexual exploits with mouths coarse enough to make a trooper blush.

Let loose from their all-girls convent in Oban, Scotland (nicknamed “The Virgin Megastore”) for a choral competition, and liberated in the wild nightlife of a buzzing Edinburgh, their escalating escapades feature promiscuity with sleazy men and even sleazier bouncers, double entendre, trippy journeys, and a whole lot of self-discovery – eased along the way by a Sambuca shot and tequila slammer, or five.

Thus the tone is set for the night out of their lives, as the course of events form a musical play fizzing with delightfully rebellious energy, sharp and shocking humour, and a surprisingly tender heart to boot.

Who’s in it?

Not six names you’re likely to recognise right now, but actresses Melissa Allan, Caroline Deyga, Karen Fishwick, Kirsty MacLaren, Frances Mayli McCann and Dawn Sievewright excel as the boisterous, bantering, chorus girls-cum-chain-smokers, bouncing with exuberant, uproarious energy.

The sextet’s ensemble acting is almost as harmonious as their roof-raising vocals, as they energetically rip into one another with all the rapport of a group of old friends, while each taking their individual chance to stir emotions in revealing monologues on aspiration, pregnancy, sexuality and death. Allan, in particular, is wonderfully evocative as former cancer patient Orla, desperately trying to play catch-up with her peers’ exploits.

What should I look out for?

Action punctuated by Martin Lowe’s superb arrangement of music that ranges from classical to pop, rock and even a spot of reggae – fans of ELO covers will feel right at home.

Chat-up lines which will, outside of this production, hopefully never see the light of day again.

A touching collection of tales of self-discovery, identity and sexuality.

In a nutshell?

Move aside St Trinian’s, this girl group – ably assisted by their rip-roaring vocals – will smash their way into hearts and minds in this fearless, provocative and gleeful musical play.

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Will I like it?

Fresh from acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and a critically lauded tour, Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour has garnered widespread acclaim throughout its journey to the National Theatre – and it’s easy to see why.

Think The History Boys meets St Trinian’s, throw in a touch of Jersey Boys, and you’re halfway there. Frenzied enthusiasm bursts through every pore of Director Vicky Featherstone’s staging and the ensemble’s ardent performances, while quieter moments (the timing of Bach’s ‘Agnus Dei’ gave me chills), beautiful harmonies and shocking truths offer a powerful sucker punch.

Although parental caution is most certainly advised, prepare to emerge from the production with a spring in your step, a grin on your face and a warmth in your heart.

Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour plays at the Dorfman Theatre, National Theatre, until 1 October. Tickets can be purchased from the venue’s website.


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