It’s such a shame that the production of NUNS by Perform and Give, a theatre production company that donates all its ticket earnings to charity, was only on for four days this week during Camden Fringe. The hard work put in by the actresses, lighting and stage design and director should not go unnoticed.
Robert Luxford’s play introduces us to 3 nuns and their Mother Superior, all of whom should certainly not be judged by their habit. Indeed, we first meet Sister Catherine (Sarah Malcolm) and Sister Roza (Mia Hall) smoking behind the church and telling prim Sister Bernadette (Kesia Guillery) about their recent sexcapades with certain priests. While Mother Superior (Michèle Belgrand) seems to be trying to control the sisters to maintain tradition and order in the convent, we learn she also has quite some secrets to hide.
This is a really fun play. When you think about it, nuns are some of the most mysterious creatures. Is there ever rule bending? Do they even want to bend rules? With so much negative emphasis on male members of the Church in recent years, it’s great to watch a completely female story and hear these characters express their desires to become bishops and popes.
The production design was certainly memorable: set designer Reiko Tanaka put the small space to very good use, making certain props easily available on a table which was also serving as a private room for nuns to enjoy erotic literature. Sam Killingback’s lighting and Fintan Davies’s sound went hand in hand to create time jumps and a rock n’ roll feel. Finally, the costumes by Alexandra Kapsala and Felicity Wood gave each nun their own personal style and edge – either through their shoes when they were in their habit, or through their choice of underwear when they were undressed.
Finally, Edwina Strobl succeeded in giving history and detail to these nuns’ lives, as well as an intimacy between them. The four talented actresses completed each other very well, from Malcolm’s provocative and fun-loving character and Hall’s never ending curiosity as her sidekick to Guillery’s sweet innocence so easily picked on and Belgrand’s hilarious coolness – who knew such a strict nun would be the one recommending marijuana?
All I can say is this has certainly made me want to see more pub theatre! Congratulations to Perform and Give!