Run to the Nuns

This hour long musical is the stuff of the fringe, a piece of work that shows great promise for sure. The story is crazily believable in a time when any Thomasina, Dick or Harriet seems hell bent on making a buck out of “wellbeing”. So why not a bunch of women, left behind when a convent closes, that choose to masquerade as nuns and create a “safe space”, a refuge and, did I get this right, a sexual health clinic? I’m a sucker for anything with nuns in it and was sad when I seemed to be the only member of the audience who got the joke about climbing mountains!

The result is of course mayhem, mayhem further confused when a new arrival arrives with an intimate itch only to discover that the “clinician” is her ex. In charge of the whole clinic is Doc, a neo-mother-superior who has taken her eye off the ball and led the entire enterprise into financial ruin, not helped either by the pot addled Sage.

Add to this extraordinary scenario music, yes this is a musical. And the music is good, very good indeed with touches of Spring Awakening and Bare, but with gags, well some gags, the songs actually for the main part convey the more serious aspects of this tale.

The performances are all good, the cast have fine voices that impress despite the lousy acoustic of a big top and the ambient intrusions of being held in a very noisy fringe arena and, dare I suggest, at times some rather over enthusiastic drumming.

But when at the start I used the word promise, it is in the hope that when this deserving show moves on it is allowed to develop. The central characters of Cat and Orla are well drawn but how I wished for more from both Doc and Sage, I yearn to know their back stories and why they are where they are.

I wanted costumes too, all of them should look like nuns or at least be uniformly dressed as 21st century nuns in pleated skirts, cardigans and modern wimples.

And I wanted more songs too, four more at least because they are so so good and so well delivered. Of course I am aware that at around 60 minutes this what a fringe show is expected to be, but I for one would like to see this piece built up, the bones are there but need just a bit more flesh on them.

Andrew Kay

Luna Arena at Caravanserai @brightonfringe

21 May

Rating: ★★★½☆

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