Get yourself down to the Duke of York’s Theatre. That’s not a request, it is a command. Rarely does a play catch my attention so fiercely that I want to immediately go and buy a ticket in a non-work capacity. I had limited preconceptions about Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. A group of teenage girls on the precipice between adolescence and womanhood, in a school under the watchful eyes of the nuns and also being choristers had a feel of somewhere between Pitch Perfect and Stand By Me, and left me with mixed emotions. Would I want to revisit the recesses of my teenage mind?
Somewhat unusually for a show, there is also the ability to purchase tickets to be on stage with the cast (although this is not an interactive piece) which added to the intimacy. The Duke of York’s is not expansive and although not every seat was filled, it garnered the same attention as if it had been staged in the London Palladium.
The whole play lasts no longer than 1 hour 45 minutes and, oh my, what meaningful coming of age passages and rites were passed. It has a cast that perfectly melded together in strong confluence, as comfortable as a well-worn pair of slippers. Of particular delight was the ability to showcase all the talents of the six girls performing, to slip in and out of character with such ease and grace. Of particular note as one to watch is Karen Fishwick in the role of Kay; smooth and steady wins the race and she held her varying roles in aplomb. Frances Mayli McCann’s portrayal of Kylah is worth shouting from the rooftops – indeed her version of Mr Blue Sky held much promise long after the song had finished. I must also mention Isis Hainsworth as the vulnerable Orla. There was real beauty and innocence in the way she carried herself.
Many of the traditional angst themes surfaced, sex, drugs, rock and roll (or lack thereof), and faking ages to get into nightclubs. The one goody two shoes who always had a darker undertone at her core. Coming from moneyed background to scrounging around for money to keep the hot water running. Same-Sex relationships. To add to this pot, came the very relevant and real struggles that young women are subjected to in the current climate, all set to the resounding songs of ELO.
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is enjoying success on St Martin’s Lane. All of the cast are Scottish and I very much hope we get to see them in the West End very soon. This is one play I would return to see again and, dare I say it, again; although next time I would like to be in one of the stage seats!
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