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Review: Our Ladies at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Fabulous Show Returns!

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until Saturday 16th July 2016

Our Ladies was the must-see show at Newcastle’s Live Theatre in 2015. (NETG Review)The question is “How well does it transfer to the bigger stage?” The good news is that it is still an amazing show.

Photo:  Manuel Harlan
Based upon Alan Warner’s best selling book The Sopranos, six sixth form girls from Oban have had a life changing trip to Edinburgh in order to attend a singing competition on behalf of their school. In Lee Hall’s adaptation they decide to perform a play to describe their experiences in the local nightclub.

Photo:  Manuel Harlan
The girls are part of a larger choir but, as the elders of the group, they will get the back seat of the coach.  They also set the tone for the trip. They are, after all, keen to get back home as rumours abound that a large group of sailors have just landed and they will be at the nightclub later in the evening. On that basis they are keen to return as soon as possible – even if that means ensuring that they fail to progress in the competition.

Photo:  Manuel Harlan
So the girls from Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour School board the bus armed with pop bottles filled with alcohol. Each student has their own backstory, their own issues and their own future to consider. Fionnular (Dawn Sievewright) lives in a council house bought with Granda’s money. Manda (Kirsty MacLaren) lives with her Da after their Mam left them. Chell (Caroline Dayga) has had a lot of tragedy in her family. Orla (Melissa Allan/Joanne McGuiness) has had a run in with cancer but got the all clear after a trip to Lourdes.  Kylah (Frances Mayli McCann) sings in a band whilst Kay (Karen Fishwick) has professional parents whoexpect her to go off to university to read Law.

Photo:  Manuel Harlan
Since the show’s appearance last year, the production has had many fabulous reviews and won awards. What makes this show one that was discussed in revered tones long after it left town? It is original. It is fresh and has a vitality, an intensity which leaves an impression upon you. It is unlike any show out there. Running at 1 hour 50 minutes without an interval, it leaps off the stage like a juggernaut.

Photo:  Manuel Harlan
Yet it is also subtle. The second viewing revealed touching moments that were missed first time around. The singing is perfect: from the opening Lift Thin Eyes, by Mendelssohn, to thepulsating ELO hits like Mr Blue Sky. This show has no megamix at the end, rather it finishes with a stunning rendition of No Woman, No Cry.

Photo:  Manuel Harlan
The six actresses, from time to time, play various other characters too and there is clarity in the movement between these characters. The many funny situations give plenty of chances for the audience to laugh.

Photo: Chris Auld
Before you rush out and buy a ticket, there is a caveat: the show is filled will regular swearing and descriptions of a sexual nature. This may not be every Theatre Royal regular’s cup of tea due to the frequent profanity.

The play has a real energy, helped by the very talented band, also onstage. Vicky Featherstone’s direction allows for a change of pace and emotion from time to time. The show never drags.

Photo: Peter Dibdin
Tonight’s performance had an unfortunate break in the proceedings as Melissa Allan was taken ill. Understudy Joanne McGuinness slotted in very well and cast did a brilliant job to pick it up where it left off and keep the action going.

If you haven’t seen it – go and see it. If you have seen it – go again and take a friend. This show could very well be the best show we see this year and pick up the Best Show gong for 2 years running.

Photo: Peter Dibdin
Adapted by Lee Hall from The Sopranos by Alan Warner
Directed by Vicky Featherstone
Music Supervisor Martin Lowe

Designed by Chloe Lamford
Lighting Design by Lizzie Powell

Choreography by Imogen Knight

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Saturday 16th July 2016, playing evenings at 7.30pm, matinees on Thu 2pm and Sat 2.30pm. Tickets from £14.50. 

Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge or book online at

Recommended 16+, contains strong language and explicit adult content of a sexual nature which some may find offensive.

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