Pros: A fresh, funny and raucous play with stellar performances from the cast.
Cons: The show may have benefitted from having an interval, and one last rocking out musical number.
I ended my day at the Brighton Festival at the Theatre Royal Brighton. A beautiful Grade II listed building, seating 952 with a traditional proscenium stage, it was a sacred setting perfectly suited to take in the divine production that is Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour.
Based on the book The Sopranos by Alan Warner, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour follows six young women from a Catholic School in Oban on a wild night out while in Edinburgh for a choir competition. Feeling the weight of world on their shoulders, and about to begin their adult lives, the girls feel the need to rebel and be reckless. Through several musical numbers, both traditional choral arrangements along with some ELO, these empowered young women deal with sex, searching for love, pregnancy, drugs, booze (even drug flavoured booze), all the while swearing like sailors. They voice their anger in contemporary song, but they bare their souls in classical choral arrangements. The energy that exudes from them is infectious, and one can’t help but have a good time along with them.
Each character had their own unique personality, adding vigour to this all female cast. Kay (Karen Fishwick) is set to be off to university next year, Chell (Caroline Deyga) has had to deal with a lot of death, and Orla (Melissa Allan) has battled cancer. Kylah (Frances Mali McCann) is in a band, Finnoula (Dawn Sievewright) is in search of love and Manda (Kirsty McLaren) enjoys simple pleasures, like bubble baths with powdered milk. Not only did they stand confidently on their own, but their work together as an ensemble was even stronger. With just six actresses, they not only played their characters, but all other characters in the show, including the men. This dramatic element just reiterated how important it is for these girls to tell their own story. It’s empowering and they owned the stage throughout the entire 90 minutes. The vocal talent these ladies displayed in their performance, for both the traditional choral pieces and the rock’n’roll, was impeccable. The fearlessness and joy, in the characters and actors, was evident, and therefore helped the audience to feel the same.
Vicky Featherstone’s brilliant direction was obvious in the way her actresses owned the stage. It was apparent how she encouraged these actresses to naturally embody their characters. The storytelling was beautiful to watch. Lee Hall’s adaptation of Alan Warner’s story was witty, fun and clearly set the tone for the show. The music arranged for the play by Martin Lowe, along with Imogen Knight’s choreography, were perfectly chosen and executed, allowing for a true and raw portrayal of these characters. I thought the show would have an interval, but I didn’t really even miss one until the show had ended. I was left aching for one last rock n’roll finale, but in the end I suppose that wasn’t the exact point. It was to enjoy your time of adolescence, know exciting roads still lie ahead, and that everything will be alright.
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is a fantastic piece of theatre, that had me leaving the theatre, inspired, fully baptised in the spirituality of the show and maybe even a bit rebellious.
Based on: The Sopranos by Alan Warner
Adapted By: Lee Hall
Director: Vicky Featherstone
Musical Arranger & Supervisor: Martin Lowe
Choreographer: Imogen Knight
Producer: National Theatre of Scotland/Live Theatre.
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run at the Brighton Festival.