Thursday, 24 August 2017

Review: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour - Duke of York's Theatre

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is one of those plays that’s everything you hoped for and more. The Olivier award-winner is based on the novel The Sopranos by Alan Warner and follows six girls from a Catholic school in remote town in Scotland as they venture to Edinburgh for a choir competition.

The girls begin with a choral piece, delivered in perfect six-part harmony, but already the eclectic mix of personalities begins to spurt out at the edges, manifested in small movements, lewd ad libs and a defiant glint in at least five pairs of eyes.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is one act play of only an hour 45, but the fast-paced, overlapping dialogue and heavy use of multi-rolling fill the script fit to burst. Given that the entire performance is given with the six girls permanently on stage on an unchanging set, the play is driven by colour and contrast, and this is a testament to the written depth of the characters, as well as the agility and commitment from the six young actors.

Though it’s a true tale of girls gone wild, a hilarious account of their outrageous and crude endeavours, it is also very dark and moving in places. The brighter the city lights, the greater the shadows.

To say that the play is punctuated with music would be to undermine its real value in the performance. Underneath their bolshie attitudes and daft games, the girls are all desperately struggling with one thing or another and the music is the release, not just for the six individuals, but for the tension of the play and the audience alike. The songs of ELO surge through a whole spectrum of emotion, culminating in foot-stomping angst that rivals that of Spring Awakening.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour has that rare quality of feeling both fresh and gritty, original yet uncomfortably familiar. What is certain, and impressively so, is how the production spins through hordes of characters, incidents and anecdotes without so much as a flash of predictability.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is running at the Duke of York's Theatre until 2nd September, and I urge you to catch it before then if you can!

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