It was a curious, rich and unique evening. The first hiccup to curse Run to the Nuns was a technical hitch, which meant the show opened over 30 minutes late. It was their first night. The upside was that the mysterious delay meant there was ample time for cocktails from the bar. In addition to unruly wires in the theatre, the box office printer broke down. A member of staff wrote out a ticket for me with a biro. It was very analogue. And slightly chaotic. I was into it.
We were informed that the performers’ microphones had been abandoned. Instead, they’d be singing without electrical amplification. Tech gremlins were forcing a spontaneous descent into the unplugged old school. Our usher didn’t even check tickets when we finally piled into Studio 3.
‘Just get in and grab a seat,’ she begged, a tad urgently. We did. Expectations were very low at this juncture.
The show kicked off and impressively, the cast served energy, slickness and brio. You’d never have guessed that behind the scenes, someone was silently howling at plugs and crossfaders. We were warned this show is a ‘work-in-progress’. The star-rating we’ve given to Run to the Nuns reflects this. It’s for a show that’s yet to be polished but has potential. In truth, the added calamities brought a raw fizz to proceedings that was quite exciting. Run to the Nuns is a rare, slightly unruly gem of show that could be carved into a big cult hit.
Run to the Nuns is a new musical, about a bunch of weed-smoking, lesbian nuns in a pseudo convent that doubles up as an STI clinic. No, really. The team describe themselves as a, ‘100% neurodiverse and queer company, and 80% of our team (cast and company) are international. Intersectionality, accessibility and boldness are the key principles of our collective’.
As a queer raver with anarchist tendencies, I’m very much here for this cooperative spirit, but none of that matters much if the show ain’t banging.
Thankfully, Run to the Nuns cracks along with a finely tuned mix of happy campery, proper acting chops, bubbling comedy and a jolly story that might be escapist nonsense, but it’s delivered with undeniable charm.
There’s a love story at the heart of the show, between the convent’s sexual health nurse ‘Kat’ (Dani Crosti) and a patient called Orlagh (Eve Pereira). Orlagh happens to be a high-flying accountant AND an ex-lover of Kat’s. There’s a sequence of awkward mix-ups, calamitous crossed wires and a bunch of toe-tapping songs to sew it all together. They turned out some soul-stirring harmonies.
Creative Producer Estelle Homerston doubles up in the cast as ‘Doc’ – a kinda Mother Superior figure. She deserves credit for juggling with both hands and keeping it all on track. Live music came from Bettine Solf and Ewan S Pires. They oozed ‘shroomy ‘60s art rock vibes and made me smile. It totally works.
Run to the Nuns clocked in at 90 minutes. At that length, it would benefit from an interval. With some major editing, this could be an hour banger of a show. In practice, Run to the Nuns is way more fun than it sounds on paper.
Brilliantly, show’s queer core becomes almost imperceivable. It achieves that elusive trick of creating art which makes a minority subculture feel somehow universal. We all want to be loved. Everyone has a past. Sexual health is crucial. And we all want to live in a bohemian convent and get stoned all day long. Don’t we?
Run to the Nuns is at Riverside Studios until 16th of July 2023. https://riversidestudios.co.uk/
Reviewer: Stewart Who?
Reviewed: 14th July 2023
North West End UK Rating: