Last Updated on 19th May 2017
Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour
Dorfman Theatre – National Theatre
13 August 2016
Having had a relatively thin week theatre wise, I looked at the last minute to see what options might present themselves. Knowing that the closing night of Titanic would have completely devastated me, I opted for a late show of Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour, which has just opened at the National Theatre. The show comes to the National from the National Theatre of Scotland via a national tour.
Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour is a play with music adapted by Lee Hall, from the novel The Sopranos by Alan Warner. It’s the story of six girls from Our Ladies who travelling from Oban to Edinburgh to take part in a choir competition, act out, sing out, experience everything that life has to offer and in their own words “Go Mental!”. For those of you unfamiliar with The Sopranos (as I was), this is no evening with the girls from St Trinians, this story and its staging seems to owe a lot to Godber’s Bouncers with a spot of Trainspotting (and maybe some Pitch Perfect) thrown in for good measure.
Ultimately, at its core, is an ensemble of extremely talented actors who can channel the voices of angels one minute, before becoming devil spawn the next. Talk of pregnancy and who they would ‘shag’ next would certainly fill any parent with thoughts of sending their daughter to Our Ladies with dread. A quip in the play about the school being the Virgin Megastore went down a treat. What’s scary is that the course of events happens in one day!
The girls from Our Ladies are played by the devilishly talented Melissa Allen, Caroline Deyga, Karen Fishwick, Kirsty MacLaren, Frances Mayli McCann and Dawn Sievewright, backed by Amy Shackcloth, Becky Brass and Emily Linden. These girls have the ability to raise their voices to the heavens with Mendelssohn’s Lift Thine Eyes and Bartok’s Enchanting Song before launching into songs, the predominance of which come from the great Jeff Lynne of ELO fame. Musicality abounds! Musical Arranger Martin Lowe’s take on Mr Blue Sky, Long Black Road, Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Don’t Bring Me Down, Shine A Little Love and Wild West Hero, beautifully handled by the ladies, had the Dorfman Theatre rocking on Saturday night. The tight-knit dramatisation of the narrative is quite something to behold here.
Be warned, this is not a night at the theatre for the prissy or faint-hearted, the “Ladies” swear like sailors and the subject matter here is at times more like pornography, but that aside its one hell of a tale. Our Ladies also comes with accents intact. You’ll never get a moment to relax in the show, it took me a while to get my ear accustomed to the fast talking Scots, which is a bit of a shame because the speed of the character introductions completely passed me by.
Vicky Featherstone’s production keeps up a relatively fast pace, but it does start to lag and the end and fizzled a bit. Ultimately, Our Ladies wasn’t really to my taste, but you’d have to be a fool not to see the extraordinary talent on display here, and the reaction of the audience (particularly the younger elements) leapt to their feet at the end.