Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour
Exuberant adaptation of Alan Warner's The Sopranos
This article is from 2015.
Based on Alan Warner's excellent novel, The Sopranos, this new production from the National Theatre of Scotland and Newcastle's Live Theatre has an electric energy to it. That's largely thanks to the all-female cast, who sing with the youthful carefree abandon of their characters: six Catholic schoolgirls from Oban, who visit Edinburgh for a school choir contest and duly go wild.
In the language it uses, it's an uncompromising adaptation from Newcastle's Lee Hall, writer of the acclaimed The Pitmen Painters. Some of the play's best lines are delivered in such thick Scots that non-locals might find more than a few jokes pass them by. But in refusing to alter the broad patter of Warner's voices, Hall not only preserves the story's locality but also its universality – these girls are loud, crude, endearing and utterly recognisable on any British street on a Saturday night.
As we follow their epic bender across the streets of Edinburgh, Our Ladies is soundtracked by a mix of live renditions of popular and choral music – they are choir girls after all – and there's a live band on stage, adding to the party-like atmosphere.
But while it's gleeful, it's certainly no angelic musical. Hall's script is rude, crude and everything in between, and revels in its dirtiness – so keep away if expertly timed swearing isn't your idea of fun. Directed by former NTS (now Royal Court) artistic director Vicky Featherstone, the pace is slick throughout but the opening scene is particularly fantastic – maybe the funniest of the year so far. And while some of its lines could be sharper and the ending meanders a little, Our Ladies is a glorious piece of theatre, and a poignant comedy about growing up and breaking free.
Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 30 Aug, various times, £20 (£15). Following the Edinburgh run, the production tours Scotland and Newcastle. See full tour details.