Mary O’Malley’s outrageous and occasionally heart-breaking comedy, Once a Catholic, is Tip Top Productions’ latest show at Chester’s Forum Studio Theatre.
The play first came to light in 1977 and, according to director Peter Swingler, it is still as relevant today as it was in the silver jubilee year.
The play is set in a convent school the like of which the author most probably attended and filled her with such determination to tell the world what life was like with nuns and priests in 1956.
Peter added: “Pious Catholics may find the play offensive but according to my mainly Catholic cast it offers a light-hearted look at a changing institution through the medium of laughter with the occasional tear as the wretched nuns persist in misunderstanding their most sincere pupil.”
Once a Catholic opens the season at The Forum Studio Theatre, Chester and includes a cast of nuns, a priest, schoolgirls and a toff.
The play explores the final academic year of three schoolgirls played by Elen Haf Taylor, Natalie Wright and Emma Humphreys.
They are joined by newcomers James Radhi as a real 1950s teddy boy complete with brothel creepers; Mike Gallagher, who plays the predatory Father Mullarkey, and has made the journey from his home in Manchester to rehearsal in Chester for the past two months simply because he loves the play and its riotous entertainment.
Playing the role of the nastiest nun in Christendom is Chester teacher Uná Meehan who coincidentally formerly taught Natalie Wright.
Bt Uná added “I hope Nat doesn’t see my character in the play resembling my real life persona!”
Completing the cast is local veteran actor Kevin Keegan, award-winning Mold actress Jan Gavin, Heather Ramsey and Glyndwr University drama student Charley Mortimer.
To complement the cast the production has been aided by an American visitor who has been on holiday in Chester. Colleen Phillips from Seattle emailed Tip Top saying she would like to help while visiting the city for a few weeks and has volunteered her services to gather such diverse props as a 1956 Guinness bottle and a dissected rabbit which was cleverly conceived by Chester-based artist Christian Owen.
Once a Catholic is on from September 18-27. Tickets available at www.chestertheatre.co.uk or by calling 01244 341296.