They're No Angels

By Geary Danihy

You know how teenage girls can be -- angelic one moment, hellions the next -- and it doesn’t matter if they are under the supervision of nuns, the girls find ways to be, well girls. Such is the case with the six young ladies who are about to represent their school at a choir competition in Edinburgh, Scotland in Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, one of the featured shows at this year’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, which recently opened at the Yale Repertory Theater and runs through June 25.

The girls, under the direction of Vicky Featherstone, start out being well behaved, singing a Scottish folk tune, but as soon as the song is over cigarettes and chewing gum appear, and it all goes downhill from there. As adapted by Lee Hall from Alan Warner’s The Sopranos (no, not the one with Tony), the show chronicles the girls’ trip to Edinburgh and the devilment they get up to, with the six often bursting out into songs that range from rock and heavy metal to more sedate ballads and an occasional hymn.

The girls -- played by Caroline Deyga, Karen Fishwick, Joanne McGuinness, Kirsty MacLaren, Frances Mayli McCann and Dawn Sievewright -- are all blessed with wonderful voices which often harmonize to perfection, they have energy to spare, and they certainly know how to project the frustrations and surface bravado of girls on the brink of womanhood (as well as other characters many are called upon to create – in this area, Sievewright is especially deft in capturing the essence of a cocky young Scottish lad on the make).

There are, however, some problems, the first being that these lassies are from Scotland, and although I am sure they have all been trained to deliver lines in faultless English, they are playing lower middle-class Scottish girls and hence deliver their lines in a patois that is often difficult to understand.

The second problem is the “F’ word, which is frequently used as a noun, a verb, an adjective and adverb and, if I am not mistaken, a conjunction. Its repetition is not shocking, it just becomes a bit tedious.

Then there’s the book itself, which has the girls experience just about every torment and travail available, from pregnancy to cancer, while consuming massive amounts of liquor and other consciousness-altering substances and dealing with raging hormones. It’s a heady mix – some might say overwhelming while others, less kind, might label it forced and unbelievable. There are revelations galore and a lot of pubescent soul-searching, much of which seems to have been inserted for its supposed shock value. It might have been shocking four or five decades ago, but it comes off today as rather banal.

All that being said, these young actors certainly do put on a show, a show that can best be enjoyed by simply disregarding the plot line, such as it is, and just sitting back and watching six very talented young actors do their stuff.

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