by Mary J O’Malley


Until 18 Jan 2014

This is an hilarious play about a 1950s Catholic girls’ school in North West London’s Willesden Green. Here are all the stereotypes, the strict nuns, the rebellious girls - tongues out behind backs, fingers up; giggles and mayhem.

However, as with all great comedies, there is a serious undertone; the play is actually about teenage girls growing up and the challenges they face. Kathy Burke, the renowned and quite wonderful director, writes a moving introduction in the programme about her own school days and the programme also includes anonymous reminiscences from the public about their convent school upbringing, hand-written in schoolgirl style.

However, back to the play and a laugh a line. The ensemble playing of the schoolgirls by Molly Logan as Mary Mooney, Amy Morgan as Mary McGinty and Katherine Rose Morley as Mary Gallagher and an horrendously, audience-beguiling performance by Cecilia Noble as Mother Peter binds the comedy into a crazy reality.

Yet the final scene in which Katherine Rose Morley’s Mary Gallagher faces real choices about sex, religion and life and even contemplates becoming a nun - is truly moving.

It’s good to see the new Tricycle’s director, Indhu Rubasingham, carrying on a tradition, that of plays which will have an immediate local interest – remember Kings of the Kilburn High Road?

Once a Catholic is another highlight, a great, timeless play and brilliantly produced.

Shaun Traynor 26 Nov 2013
London Life scoop it