Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour Review

The Plot

Six rebellious convent schoolgirls take advantage of a trip to Edinburgh to compete in a choir competition by instead embarking on a series of increasingly wild misadventures shamelessly fuelled by booze and sex.

The Good

All-female productions and genuine originality are sadly both rare commodities even in the West End. Our ladies delivers both as it offers up a boldly puerile and poignant tale of dramatically misspent youth.

The cast members do a compelling job of not just portraying the six wanton schoolgirls but also simultaneously taking turns portraying the motley assortment of teachers, boys,  bouncers and weirdos  that they cross paths with their wild ride of bad choices.  The shows six young stars deserve significant praise for bringing an entire world to life with convincing impressions, smart staging and a splash of imagination.

Musically Our Ladies provides a unique juxtaposition of elegantly harmonised choral music and karaoke style classic rock. Numerous classic tunes from operatic rock masters ELO give the show regular injections of punchy toe tapping fun. The production does well to avoid the usual pitfalls of so called jukebox musicals by using the well-known pop hits to emotionally punctuate key moments in the story rather than heavy handily trying to construct a narrative around the songs themselves.

While the show regularly falls back on catchy musical escapes and a steady stream of naughty humour it also frequently injects flashes of bitter tragedy that immediately create an additional and perhaps more meaningful layer to what could otherwise have easily been merely a guilty vicarious pleasure.

Having grabbed amusing attention with the contrast between choir girl stereotypes and reckless uninhibited teen delinquency, the play thankfully proceeds to push further and gradually reveal each character’s genuine adolescent struggles. The production ultimately sneaks in surprising nuance and fragile sincerity amongst a barrage of brash shameless antics.

The Bad

The production sets out to be provocative, raucous and often downright filthy. This will amuse and entertain many but undoubtedly also prove less palatable for those with more conservative theatrical tastes. Strong Scottish accents and the relentless barrage of shamelessly fouled mouthed slang will also prove a special test for both those with delicate sensibilities and tourists.

Those with a natural ear and appreciation for fierce Scottish banter will be able to enjoy it and the six stories it gradually reveals, however it could easily prove a barrier for those that may struggle to either comprehend or condone it.

While Our Ladies has much to offer it’s sometimes unclear exactly which audience the show best targets. Filth ridden adolescent comedy and the vintage classic rock soundtrack potentially appeal to very different audiences. Older ELO fans may find the characters harder to connect with, while younger audiences probably wouldn’t be allowed to watch it in the first place.

The Ugly Truth

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour hits some impressive high and low notes to offer up a truly unique antidote for anyone bored with more typical safe and sanitized west end musical theatre.  Outstanding harmonies and a charismatic young cast help turn a challenging script and compact stage into an arresting display of wild entertainment.

Review by Russell Nelson

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