Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Review: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at the National Theatre

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour 
National Theatre (Dorfman)
Reviewed on Tuesday 16th August 2016

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour comes bursting in to the National Theatre after its celebrated debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2015. Based on the novel by The Sopranos by Alan Warner, it tells the story of six good Catholic school girls, whose road-trip to a choir competition proves to be more eventful than they ever imagined.

Lee Hall's adaptation is peppered with hilarious one liners, dropped in amongst heartbreaking monologues. These Ladies are here to cause a stir, and their constant effing, blinding and explicit chat about sex certainly causes ripples through the Dorfman. Their aim is simple - to win bring back gold from the competition and make it back in time to have a dance and a snog in Mantrap - the only nightclub in their entire town. What follows is a story of friendship, of discovery, and the world record for Sambucca shots. 

Vicky Featherstone's production is loud, proud and unashamedly Scottish. The Glaswegian tones of the six ensemble actors starts off brash and ends up entirely compelling. These characters feels very real, and by the end of the two hour (no interval) production, they really do become your mates. Fleeting glimpses of their own personal stories - pregnancy, cancer, and confused sexuality pop out amongst the ordinary teenage lives of six kids wanting to have a bit of fun. It's refreshingly bold and exciting.

Enthused with mainly a Capella traditional hymns and rocking covers of ELO, the girls storm their way through musical numbers, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "teenage angst".

All six actors shine individually, and their relationships hold true. Melissa Allan stands out giving a beautifully nuanced performance as the awkward Orla, whilst Caroline Deyga provides most of the laughs as the bolshy Chell. Karen Fishwick and Dawn Sievewright as Kay and Fionnula respectively, compliment each other extremely well, multi-rolling a heap of larger than life characters with flare and ingenuity. Frances Mayli McCann possesses a fine voice as Kylah, and Kirsty MacLaren brings a gorgeous naivety to Manda. Kudos too to the trio of female musicians who provide an upbeat, sharp background to proceedings. 

It's great to see the National continuing to programme new work of a different calibre to the stuffy revivals of yesteryear. Our Ladies is as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming, and we could all learn something from their carefree attitudes. Bravo to Featherstone and Hall for pushing the boundaries with such a uniquely different piece that entertains just as much as it enlightens. Praise be.

Reviewed by Oliver Dowdeswell

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour runs at the National Theatre until 1st October 2016.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

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