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Review: We’ll Have Nun Of It at The Other Palace (Studio) 

Review by Olivia Ruggiero

We’ll Have Nun Of It is a brave new musical exposing the world of Catholic boarding schools in the 1960’s. Tackling everything from sexual awakenings to religious indoctrination this folk-rock opera has the potential to be the next Come From Away or Spring Awakening. Finola Southgate and Rosie Dart have devised an exciting, surprisingly relevant and moving piece of contemporary theatre. It’s a space to watch for sure. 

The multi-talented cast sing, act and play instruments (as they comprise the band for the show as well.) The shining, blazing and blistering star of this production is Michaela Murphy as Caragh. Her dialect work is almost perfect, her vocals exceed all expectations and her work as a storyteller is truthful and piercingly accurate. She works well with Heather Gourdie who plays Bernie. Gourdie takes a while to warm up – there’s something distant about her but during the first half an hour, the audience grows to sympathise with her, like her even, and by the end of the show we are weeping with her. Both Gourdie and Murphy play believable teenagers embodying the awkward adolescence of youth as they navigate a rapidly changing world. Unfortunately, this does mean they overshadow the rest of the cast and that is actually the only thing wrong with the production at this point in time. There’s no denying Juliette Artigala and Angel Lema are talented performers, with unique voices and impressive stage presences but they don’t quite match the energy of Murphy and Gourdie. Artigala is an impressive performer with some powerhouse vocals and yet I question her believability as a teenager and some of her character choices. Lema has the most unique voice and yet doesn’t quite blend with the rest of the ensemble in the way I had hoped. This contrast is made even more evident in their solo singing. Sorrel Jordan is excellent in all her roles. She is exciting to watch, especially when she swaps characters and does some exceptional work on the drums. She doesn’t stand out but blends perfectly where she needs too. No doubt this is a beast of a show to cast – looking for quadruple threat talents but I do think this element of the piece is so crucial to how it works overall – especially considering there are only 5 people on the stage. 

The direction of the piece is fabulous. Rosie Dart has done wonderful work in bringing this story to life with limited tech, and sparse set. I hope that in future iterations they continue to play with this bareness on stage – it adds something so essential the work. It’s exciting to see young female directors with such innovative brains making new work. The music and lyrics by Finola Southgate are extraordinary. There’s heart, soul and a lot of love in this musical. All in all, I think this little show is a piece of theatre that can and should excel and go places (big places) in the future. There’s exponential potential here. Exciting and thought provoking work. Get along to see it! 

Image Supplied


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