Sopranos play to be a highlight of Fringe

Novelist Alan Warner. Picture: Jayne Wright
Novelist Alan Warner. Picture: Jayne Wright
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A CULT novel about a group of Catholic schoolgirls from the west coast of Scotland running wild in Edinburgh will be brought to the stage for the first time at the Fringe this summer.

The National Theatre of Scotland will be reunited with former artistic director Vicky Featherstone for the adaptation of Alan Warner’s The Sopranos, which Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall will be reworking into a racy musical play.

One of the expected Fringe highlights at the Traverse Theatre, the show will mark the first time Ms Featherstone has worked with NTS since she left the company at the end of 2012.

Hall shot to fame with the screenplay for Billy Elliot, the drama about a young ballet dancer set at the height of the 1980s miners’ strike.

Renamed Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour for the stage, the NTS show charting 24 hours in the lives of “six girls on the cusp of change” will tour Scotland after its Edinburgh premiere. Love, lust, pregnancy and death are all expected to be tackled in Hall’s script, which NTS says will be about “losing your virginity and finding yourself”.

Warner’s story – published in 1998, three years after his celebrated breakthrough Morvern Callar – follows the exploits of five girls from a convent school who are visiting the Capital for a choir competition. A follow-up, The Stars in the Bright Sky, was nominated for Scottish Book of the Year.

Laurie Sansom, the current artistic director of NTS, said: “We experience their tribal loyalties and the unique joy of friendship and rebellion that only teenage years can bring.”

NTS said Featherstone, who instigated the project when she was with the company, and Hall would be creating “a funny, sad and raucously rude production about singing, sex and sambuca”.

Featherstone said: “I am beyond thrilled Alan Warner has trusted Lee Hall with his game-changing novel about the Sopranos from Oban and am honoured that Laurie Sansom has programmed this anarchic, heart-breaking and life-filled show. It is everything that Scotland is – fearless, hopeful, musical, angry and unique.”

Hall said he had harboured ambitions of bringing The Sopranos to the stage since he first read the book 17 years ago.

He added: “Alan Warner’s view of the world chimed so much with my own experience of growing up in Newcastle so it seemed a perfect project to work on.”