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Once a Catholic review at Upstairs at the Gatehouse London

Like a first edition of Bunty magazine this is a rather quaint period piece to elicit sniggers rather than guffaws; interest in the past rather than the present.

Mary O’Malley’s play, written in the 70s and set in a 1950s Catholic school for girls in north-west London, revolves around a series of sketches detailing the growing pains of virtuous Mary Mooney (Billie Fulford-Brown) and her chums as they deal with a variety of nuns from hell, teddy boys and mortal sins.

Fizzy pop to Father Ted’s treble whisky, it’s an anodyne lampooning of a certain strain of Catholicism, partly saved by the decision to frame it as a play within a play with the girls playing the adult roles as if for their own amusement. This neatly offers some justification for O’Malley’s crude stereotypes as pupils dress up and caricature their hated elders, while providing some much needed action between scenes as they frenetically run around finding costumes and props.

Too long by half an hour, it does provide a good showcase for the all-female cast with Roanna Cochrane shining for the girls and Fiona Drummond on behalf of the adults – the latter offering an hilarious performance of a demonic nun bordering on the psychotic.

Production Information

Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London, February 17-March 7

Mary O’Malley
David Dorrian
LOST theatre company
Cast includes
Billie Fulford-Brown, Roanna Cochrane, Fiona Drummond, Louise Torres Ryan, Gwen Conlon, Heather Gibbs, Amy Molloy, Lucinda Forth, Kimberley Morrison, Harriet Fisher
Running time
2hrs 50 mins