REVIEW: ONCE A CATHOLIC Upstairs At the Gatehouse Highgate

PUBLISHED: 11:24 27 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:59 07 September 2010

Three star rating Once a Catholic – always a Catholic is the saying and this satire written in the 70s about the 50s seems to prove it. It is not so much a play as a series of sketches about young girls being indoctrinated into a series of terrifying idea

Three star rating

Once a Catholic - always a Catholic is the saying and this satire written in the 70s about the 50s seems to prove it.

It is not so much a play as a series of sketches about young girls being indoctrinated into a series of terrifying ideas - making them riddled with guilt and afraid they might inadvertently commit a mortal sin and be sent to hell.

The nuns are stupid and sadistic and actually believe that everyone who doesn't follow "the true religion" will be damned.

The girls (all called Mary) are unbelievably naive, but the nuns assume that they are promiscuous because of their enquiring minds and punish them accordingly.

The school is rife with prohibitions: "Never be alone in a room with a member of the opposite sex" (except, of course, for the priest!); "Missing mass is a worse crime than murder."

One girl is severely punished when they find a packet of tampons in her bag.

The teenagers are forever damned because it seems that Jesus and Mary are a couple of vigilantes, who just lie in wait for one of the little girls to make a mistake

Of course, all is seen through the eyes of the girls.

Many of the sketches are really amusing and there are some funny ideas. But at three hours, it is far too long.

Apart from the three main protagonists, the 10 Marys play all the rest of the parts as required. All are pretty and talented.

Billie Fulford-Brown is Mooney, the most innocent of all and therefore the most often chastised, Roanna Cochrane is the clever Gallagher, and Heather Gibbs is the pretty but none too bright McGinty.

However, the undoubted star of the evening is Amy Molloy who is totally convincing as Father Mullarkey - a priest who eats his sausages while hearing confession so he can get to the off-licence before it closes.

Kimberley Morrison and Harriet Fisher are impressive as the two boyfriends and the rest efficiently portray the various nuns.

This piece is written as a joke and must be taken as such or nightmares are inevitable.

Until March 7.

Aline Waites

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