by Lynn on July 9, 2017

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, England

From the novel The Sopranos by Alan Warner
Adapted by Lee Hall
Directed by Vicky Featherstone
Designed by Chloe Lamford
Lighting by Lizzie Powell
Sound by Mike Walker
Choreography by Imogen Knight
Cast: Becky Brass
Caroline Deyga
Karen Fishwick
Isis Hainsworth
Lilly Howard
Emily Linden
Kirsty MacLaren
Frances Mayli McCann
Amy Shackcloth
Dawn Sievewright

Lively, irreverent, rude, raw, and almost incomprehensible to me because of the thick Scottish accent and the whizzing slang.

The Story. Six convent girls are going to a choir competition in Edinburgh. It’s been an interesting year. Seven girls alone in this one graduating class have become pregnant. Lots of pent up emotions here. The girls take the bus organized for the journey and along the way get into all manner of trouble: drinking, picking up men, getting drunk, loosing their uniforms (stolen actually), setting fire to a pub, tricking people, telling each other their secrets, getting reprimanded by the Mother Superior, singing their bits in the competition dressed in their street clothes, being eliminated, then going completely wild after that.

The Production
. The six girls introduce themselves to us, facing the audience. There are tables and chairs on the stage on the two sides of the stage for those people silly enough to think these are great seats. All they see are the backs of the heads of the girls or the sides of their heads. As this show is fashioned like a traditional Scottish ceilidh, a party where everyone participates. That might be nice when everyone is all there together, but when people on stage are paying something like £39 at least for the privilege, that’s just nuts.

Director Vicky Featherstone directs this with energy, abandon, raucous liveliness and irreverence. The girls sing beautifully when doing their choir pieces and full out belting when they are rocking.

There are the usual types here: the loner girl who is posh, pregnant and terrified to tell her parents, a girl recovering from cancer and finds it’s come back, a girl who is in love with the one who is pregnant, a girl from an abusive family, etc.

It ends in a blaze of ‘care-less’ energy as the girls belt out their last song in a blaze of light, that these are the best years of their lives. Irony drips from the rafters.

Comment. The meaning of succour: “assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.” “The wounded had little chance of succour.” Irony continues to drip…..

The reviews and the reaction to this wild show have been rapturous. Me, I didn’t care. Not a jot. That happens when the accent is so thick I can’t make out 60% of what they are saying—I’m usually good with this stuff, but was defeated here. Also the slang went so fast again I couldn’t make it out. And the actual content, after a while, destructive behaviour is just so tiresome. Is it generational? Do I lack the needed frustration of these girls to care about them? Feh.

The performances of all the girls and the girl band are stellar. Lee Hall’s adaptation I’m sure is stellar too, it’s just that I didn’t have a clue for the most part about what is going on. When I did, I just could not give a rise to compassion. The girls are all so repressed in that school and so eager to bust out, and so devoid of a sense of right, wrong, and in between, it was a hard road to caring or understanding. When their world really came crashing down—when they were reprimanded by the nuns and tossed out of the competition, they then went into overdrive in wild behaviour, destruction, cold-hearted behaviour to strangers, (men), that I was lost. It was heartening that they showed compassion to each other. Yawn. I will read the source material though, just to see what I’m missing, or not.

A rare dud on this wonderful trip of generally great theatre.

Continues open-ended.

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