Photo – Manuel Harlan
It’s amazing when you think back to those life changing moments in adolescence – bubbles of clarity caught between the soft naivity of childhood and the big hard tempting world of adulthood. Songs you’ve heard a hundred times before sound different and take on new meaning, people you’ve overlooked before suddenly become interesting, a day lasts for an eternity and a sunrise takes on a new, existential significance. This is what Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour captures so beautifully.
Never mind the fact that these six young 20-something Scottish actors are captivating performers who careen effortlessly between 16 year old “girls gone wild”, tight lipped nuns and hilarious caricatures of dirty old men in pubs. Never mind that they have astounding pipes to hypnotise, singing six part hymns like angels one minute, rocking out with every inch of their being to the all girl three piece band the next. Never mind that there’s enough foul language and grossness to give Trainspotting a run for it’s money. This, in the words of one hallowed grunge band, smells like teen spirit.
Based on the 1998 novel The Sopranos by Alan Warner and adapted by Lee Hall (creator of Billy Elliot), this rollicking tale by the National Theatre of Scotland takes you on a road trip as a gang of rude, boozy Catholic girls set off from their small town to a choir competition in Edinburgh. Needless to say they’re more interested in getting the rounds in than getting the harmonies right.
There’s Kay who might be posh and play cello up on Pulpit Hill but she’s gone and got herself pregnant on an illicit, drunken night out. There’s Orla who’s had cancer and tried to have sex with a dying, tattooed man in the ward next to her. There’s Chell who’s father drowned at sea and thinks she sees him in a pile of seaweed out the back of a club they're trying to break into (that’s before they’ve even taken the magic mushrooms). There’s Fionnula who decides, after two “hooches” and four tequila shooters, she’s probably gay.
Their thick accents are pretty hard to comprehend in the beginning, but after five minutes your ears do tune in to the lyrical lilting. And it could probably have done with being 15 minutes shorter. But these ladies are brimming with so much fire in their bellies and musical chutzpah, you’re so attached to them by the end of the play that you’d be happy to hold their hair back while they vomited in the loo.
National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour
Adapted by Lee Hall from the novel The Sopranos by Alan Warner
Director Vicky Featherstone
Venue: Fairfax Studio | Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Dates: 6 – 22 October 2016
Tickets: $79 – $25