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REVIEW: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour "will win even the most cynical audience over"

As a woman who went to a mixed comprehensive on the South Coast of England I can’t exactly say this tale of Scottish Catholic school girls resonated with me, but I still enjoyed the experience; the novelty of a female-dominated (both its cast and director) play, the music of ELO (you have no soul if you don’t bounce in your seat to Mr Blue Sky) and the delightful coming of age story and all the issues that come with that, will win even the most cynical audience over.

The obvious thing to mention is the vulgarity that has been mentioned in other reviews; I didn’t find it that bad and if you go in with expectations of graphic language and sexual imagery you are less likely to walk out. The truth is women everywhere talk like this. There isn’t an interval and I question if the alleged walk outs are based on this more than anything; I would have loved an interval Barr’s Limeade.

Not that this young cast of 6 ever lose their energy, going from choral singing to full on rock-outs without even a gasp. If, like me, you don’t consider yourself a musical person, this story based on Alan Warner’s 1998 novel The Sopranos, is rich with bereavement, sexuality, teen pregnancy and the oppression of Catholicism taking centre stage as they leave their comfort zone and it all goes terribly wrong. This, much like The History Boys, will be remembered as a starting point for these fine actresses. I particularly enjoyed Isis Hainsworth as Orla, a girl recovering from cancer and Karen Fishwick, who not only plays her character of the posh outsider Kay incredibly well, but also takes on a lot of the other characters the girls come across on their choir trip to Edinburgh, where they just want to drink booze, have fun and get disqualified so they can get back to Oban’s nightclub The Mantrap to cop off with the local lads. This is ultimately a fun show with some hilarious moments, that gets under the skin of teenage hormones and vanity.

Putting aside all cynicism about men writing about young women, Lee Hall has created not only a realistic portrayal of being a teenage girl in the 90s (I dread to think what these girls would have got up to if they had had social media…) but also a convincing look at Scotland and Scottish life without a haggis or Proclaimer in sight.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour runs until 02 September 2017. Book your tickets now to avoid disappointment!

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