Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour – 4*


Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

Duke of York’s Theatre

Media Night – 16th May 2017


“St Trinian’s meets Trainspotting”


Based on Alan Warner’s 1998 novel ‘The Sopranos’, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour was adapted for the stage by Lee Hall (best known for Billy Elliott). It first appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015, subsequently toured the UK and had a sell-out run at the National Theatre last year.

Dawn Sievewright (Fionnula), Caroline Deyga (Chell), Karen Fishwick (Kay) Isis Hainsworth (Orla), Frances Mayli McCann (Kylah) and Kirsty MacLaren (Manda)

The story seems at first seems innocuous enough, six convent school girls from Oban taking part in an annual choir competition in Edinburgh. Indeed the show starts with a charming rendition of Mendelssohn’s Lift Thine Eyes. But liberated for a day from their insular home town and regimented school life, these girls intend to enjoy every last minute of their time in the Scottish capital, and this doesn’t involve an afternoon seeing the sights.

What follows is heady mix of booze, sex, a host of undesirables and yet more booze. This is St. Trinian’s meets Trainspotting – a foul mouthed journey that sees the girls lose their uniforms and lose their inhibitions.  One girl even sees a vision of her father in a pile of seawood and that’s before they’ve sampled the magic mushroom lager …

Yet amongst the coarseness and vulgarity, this is also a very touching tale of teenagers’ lives. In a non-stop performance (105 minutes), the play handles everything from teen pregnancy to coming out, friendships to mortality. 

The young cast are all excellent, each bringing alive the six very different personalities of the girls with perfection. Accompanied by an on stage three piece band the girls delight us with musical numbers ranging from angelic harmonies to belting ELO classics.

At times it’s not an easy watch, sometimes because of the extremely graphic sexual humour (the person sat beside me was squirming with embarrassment at the constant talk of ‘jizz’ and ‘spunk’), sometimes because of the touching sub-plots, but mostly because this reflects aspects of real life that we’d rather ignore – a spiral of sex, alcohol and drugs with little hope of escape.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is at the Duke of York’s Theatre until September 2nd.




Production Photography by Manuel Harlan