A stunning performance, the original musical We’ll Have Nun of It, written by Finola Southgate, is nothing short of a masterpiece from start to finish. Directed by Rosie Dart and musical director Honor Halford-Macleod, We’ll Have Nun of It captures the spirit and charm of four friends as they weave through life in a convent high school in 1967.
Set in a Catholic school in East London, the audience are taken through the turmoil that teenage years bring through raw emotional performances from Bella Elwes, Rose Galbraith, Izzy Mackie and Lily Spillane. But it is far from cliché, Southgate achieves a fine balance in raising important issues as prevalent today as they were in 1967 and slips in moments that are a sign of the times. Deftly mentioning abortion laws (1967 is the year that the Abortion Act was passed) and perceptions of the LGBTQ+ community in the late sixties gives us further insight into the girls’ lives adding depth to their stories and performance.
Each of the four friends has their own story revealed throughout the show as they dip into their thoughts, each actress delivering performances with relentless energy and heart. But not only is this a showcase of individual hope and perseverance but a remarkable display of the power of friendship. Elwes, Galbraith, Mackie and Spillane remain onstage throughout the whole performance, accompanied by the band behind them, which creates an intimacy reflecting that friends never go too far away. Harmonising throughout solo and group numbers only adds to the wonder of the performance and seeks to implicate friendship even when you think you are alone.
The audience watch as compelling tales of friendship and hardship are revealed, from abusive relationships to falling in love and above all that, studying at a religious school at a time in life where you start to question things and make new decisions. The well-crafted script ties together many different themes, highlighting joyous moments of dancing around to deeper, more emotional anecdotes that leave the audience in awe of the utterly compelling acting by each actress.
An incredible script is only exemplified through the mixture of uplifting and serious musical numbers taking the audience through a plethora of emotions. Clever incorporation of instruments sees the talented actresses not only acting and singing but accompanying the band with instruments from violins to the piano adding a fresh, impressive dynamic to the performance.
Excellent lighting is employed to amplify scenes where the audience have a personal glimpse into the life of a character yet realise the other three characters are subtly performing alongside adding to the delicate magic of the show. In addition to this, simple staging proves effective in allowing the actresses to command the stage without over-complication. Use of benches and clever choreography allows the performance to have fluidity as charming school-girl scenes are juxtaposed with more serious themes.
A touching, beautifully performed show, We’ll Have Nun of It, is a delight to watch with outstanding performances from Elwes, Galbraith, Mackie and Spillane. This original musical is an utter triumph weaving through different issues relevant then and now, encompassing clever musical features and brilliant staging, We’ll Have Nun of It, is a show I won’t forget in a hurry.
Image: Sister Sister Productions