Melbourne Festival: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

It was impossible to get a ticket for Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe, but it’s running for all of the Melbourne Festival so as many people as possible can sing their praises and toast them with creaming soda mixed with vodka, Cointreau and a bit of advocaat.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. Melbourne Festival. Photo Supplie
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. Melbourne Festival. Photo Supplied

Six Catholic school teenagers from the coastal Scottish town of Oban travel to Edinburgh for a choral competition. They have a free afternoon before they have to sing.

There are concerns with illness, sexuality, family and what to do next when you’ve got no money and the chances are high that your class will break the school record for the most pregnancies in one year – but all that can wait because there’s time to dump the uniforms, get drunk and find some action.

Based on Alan Warner’s 1988 book The Sopranos, it was adapted by Lee Hall for the National Theatre of Scotland. The magnificent cast of six also play the supporting characters and never let their girls fall into stereotypes. With three musicians, they perform in what looks like the crappest club in town with peeling paint and a statue of the Virgin keeping an ever-present, if useless, watch and reminding us that the sacred can and does happens everyday.

From the uniforms, smokes, constant swearing, hideous booze mixes, wanting to get it off with anyone and stupid decisions to the exquisite six-part harmonies and love of ELO, the Ladies are my last year at high school. Or what I secretly really wanted it to be.

Surely it’s everyone’s last year at school. Freedom’s so close, but you don’t know how to reach it safely. So much of your future is chance and there’s the nagging fear of growing up and realising that “We’re just a tiny percentage of what we could’ve been”.

It’s bloody brilliant theatre.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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