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Once a Catholic

by Mary O'Malley

13th to 20th October 2018

"Sharp and evocative...refreshing play that will be a source of much merriment among the devout and lapsed." - Plays and Players

There are three Marys - not so unremarkable in a convent school. Mary McGinty has an illicit boyfriend, Derek, a mod with a speech impediment. Mary Gallagher has a plummy choirboy Cuthbert who fancies being a priest and crossing his fingers when it comes to the celibacy. Mary Mooney has singing lessons with creepy Mr Emanuelli. The girls aren’t just inexperienced, they’re a blank slate, and even instructive lessons on the reproductive systems of the rabbit have to be interrupted for prayers. Any questions they have are interpreted as insolence. Tampax boxes are confiscated like cigarettes. When the girls turn to other areas for information, they find there’s little help to be found crammed three abreast in a toilet cubicle reading questionable passages of Leviticus. And when they’re caught, naturally the first question is ‘Is it a Catholic Bible?’

Once a Catholic was first performed at The Royal Court Theatre in 1977. It won awards from the Evening Standard newspaper and Plays & Players magazine. Mary O'Malley went on to be the Royal Court's resident dramatist for 1977. The production transferred to Wyndham's Theatre in the West End where it ran for over two years.