The very first time I heard about Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour was in the run-up to the 2017 Olivier Awards when it was nominated for and subsequently won the award for Best New Comedy. Thats when it made it onto my West-End bucket list. I mean, if its won an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy it must be good right??
Its actually been around for a little while though and its West-End transfer comes following sold-out runs at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, a stint at the National Theatre and a UK Tour. It opened at the beautiful Duke of York’s Theatre on 9th May to rave reviews so to say I was excited to see it for myself is an understatement!
The play is adapted by Lee Hall from Alan Warner’s novel The Sopranos and tells the story of 6 catholic choir girls from Oban in Scotland who are as far from your average catholic choir girls as you could possibly imagine. They’re headed to Edinburgh for a prestigious choir competition which they plan to lose. Why? You might ask – well they want to make it home in time to get wasted with a bunch of hot sailors at the local nightclub – The Mantrap. Not surprisingly, things get a little out of control and these not-so angelic choir girls get themselves into a whole array of hilarious situations. You are warned upon entering the theatre to “Prepare thyself for… really rude language, flashing lights, pyrotechnics, lots of sexual references, excessive drinking, and extensive use of the smoke machine” and that you must. Don’t take your devout catholic Grandmother to this one. But in amongst the hilarity are some heartbreaking stories. Underneath their feisty facades are 6 vulnerable teenage girls facing 6 individual battles and at the heart of it all, masked by comedy and crudity, emerges a touching story about youth, friendship and coming of age.
The entire story is told by the 6 leading ladies played by Isis Hainsworth, Caroline Deyga, Karen Fishwick, Kirsty MacLaren, Frances Mayli McCann and Dawn Sievewright. All are overflowing with talent and give 110% of their energy to each performance – transforming effortlessly and hilariously into the characters of those they meet along the way. I was blown away by the sheer talent displayed as they switched instantaneously between schoolgirl and perverted old man. It is a testament to their talent and impeccable comic timing that the story flows with such ease.
Although this is technically a play, there are a few musical numbers scattered throughout which provide a welcome inter-monologue break. The show opens with a beautiful rendition of Mendelssohn’s “Lift thine eyes” before seeing a drastic turn around in time for a rendition of ELO’s “Mr Blue Skies”. These girls harmonise to perfection and provide an unexpected and sublime treat for the ears.
It took me a couple of minutes to tune into the strong Scottish accents and then maybe 10-15 minutes to really get into this play. The story only started to come together properly for me when the girls started to split up and each individual story came into it. Before this point I felt a little lost but once it got going, it really got going. I do wonder if at times the obscenity goes slightly too far and I have no doubt that it would be too much for some audiences. A lot of the comedy relies on this aspect of the performance so if you’re not a fan of vulgar humour – this one might not be for you.
Overall, this is an endearing and hilarious story of youth and friendship. It’s a fast paced and gloriously audacious occasion which faultlessly shifts between outrageous and emotional with true feeling. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’d recommend it to my friends – but not to my mother. If you know what to expect walking in, you’ll walk out smiling – possibly with slightly sore abdominal muscles from the belly laughing it may induce.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to fromtheboxoffice.com for inviting me to see this wonderful show! If you fancy a hilariously naughty night out – head over to the From The Box Office Website for tickets!