Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

May 31-June 4

Liverpool Playhouse


There’s a kind of a quiz you may know: Mr White lives in the corner house

and Mr Black is three doors down. Mr Grey recently had a hernia operation while the guttering on Mr Brown’s roof just fell down, so who…

And there’s this play, about six Scottish schoolgirls going to participate in a competition for choirs. Yes, it does take some sorting out: who’s who, what’s what, etc, etc. It requires a process of elimination, particularly since they play every other character as well; Karen Fishwick and Dawn Sievewright play an astonishing variety of men and astonishingly well. There’s also the heavy accents though it is curious how obscenities and some exceptionally near the bone observations ring out, and get under the skin, judging by one woman’s tittering, even throughout what was in fact a very tender if edgy scene.

Six young ladies who can sing like angels, but whose thoughts, words and actions can seem as if they were possessed by the devil. The incredible cast raise their game, Melissa Allan, Caroline Deyga, Kirsty MacLaren, Frances Mayli McCann, from stereotype to archetype: virgin; whore; the one who’s hefty in both self-confidence and weight; the would-be rock star; stuck-up bitch; mean queen.

A cluttered stage covers all possibilities, a bus, a convent, a night club; the domain of strangers where there is little sign of kindness. Being picaresque, some encounters seem extremely farfetched although such cases curiously often turn out to be based on things which have really happened. Similarly, the play encourages each girl to tell her story so it does tend to come across as a series of vignettes, largely linked by the music of ELO, of all things. Because of these scenarios, a lack of an interval, which appears odd because of the natural break when the actin moves back from London to Scotland, the remainder feels like a mixture of false starts and anticipated endings.

But the whole thing fizzes with energy, sparkling with enthusiasum. It may not be everybody’s flavour of the month but it’s a delicious taste of what’s served up at Edinburgh


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