Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour @ Duke of York’s Theatre
Running Time: 1 hours 50 mins, no interval
Fresh from a hit run at the National Theatre and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour transfers to the West End for a limited run. The piece charts six young girls over the course of a day out in Edinburgh, and the various events that befall them. The narrative is strong – Lee Hall has adapted Alan Warner’s original book well, managing to balance the multiple storylines well but also using the songs of ELO cleverly to illustrate and comment on the action.
One of the things that is most notable about this production are the girls playing the friends – there is a reason that the ensemble received a joint Best Actress nomination for the Oliviers. They all work well as a unit and separately that it would be hard to identify a particular one of them for praise. They manage to bring to life not only their own characters but also the other individuals the girls meet with energy and passion.
The pacing of this transfer is also great – the cutting of the interval is a particularly good idea as it means that the energy isn’t dropped and continues through into the slightly slower second half. The piece feels at its best when these girls are out and having a good time, though there are a lot of tender moments in this piece that really tug at the heartstrings.
The ELO score is also worked well into the book – this is a play with songs rather than a musical, in that whilst they regularly comment on action, the girls are consciously performing them as songs. They are also beautifully adapted, and a particular highlight is Mr Blue Sky (arguably it is the ELO song that everyone knows).
Our Ladies boasts a relatively simplistic set, however it is one that works well for it – it means the focus remains on the girls, which is as it should be. The piece is also well lit, changing the mood and setting instead of the use of superfluous props. The use of on stage seating is also more effective than most attempts, meaning that the piece feels much closer and less divided from the audience. This is much better than many shows who do this – many times it feels like an attempt to fill more audience into an already crowded venue. The view would be good for Our Ladies, which not all shows can say.
Summary: A fantastic, uplifting and full of energy show that is enjoying a much-deserved transfer. ****