Touring – reviewed at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Guest reviewer: Sarah Moyes
A thought-provoking and inspiring piece of musical theatre, Glasgow Girls at the King’s Theatre feels more relevant than ever as it returns for a new tour.
The story is set in 2005 and is based on the true story of a group of teenagers from Drumchapel High School, with script by the Lyceum’s now artistic director David Grieg from an idea conceived for the stage by Cora Bissett, who also directs.
It follows what happens when one of the girls and her asylum-seeking family are forced to leave their home to be deported. The group known as the ‘Glasgow Girls’ take it upon themselves to fight for not only her rights, but the rights of all children of asylum seekers in Scotland. The show originally made its debut at Glasgow Citizens Theatre in 2012 and since then a lot has changed in our political climate.
It would nice to be able to say things have improved, especially given the hard work of the Glasgow Girls, but with Donald Trump still wanting to build his wall on the Mexican border and almost daily stories of migrants making their way to the UK on boats, it could even be argued that things have got worse.
Especially when you add Brexit into the mix and start making millions of EU citizens in the UK apply to be allowed to call the country many of them grew up in their home.
Taking on the role of these inspirational girls are Patricia Panther, Sophia Lewis, Stephanie McGregor, Aryana Ramkhalawon, Chiara Sparkes, Shannon Swan and Kara Swinney – each one giving a terrific performance in their own right as the tell their own emotional stories whether it be fighting for their freedom or against their own family’s views of asylum-seekers.
This group of girls are like others all around the country – until Agnesa is taken from her bed in a dawn raid on her Glasgow home. But what happens next is a story of sheer determination by these young women who are suddenly thrust in from of the media and Scotland’s politicians.
References to First Minister Jack McConnell, especially on the hilarious song Ain’t Done Jack and spot on impressions of Tommy Sheridan work well to set the story in its political era and ring true with anyone who remembers the political landscape of Scotland in the early 2000s.
Callum Cuthbertson brings a lot of humour to the role of Mr Girvan, a high school teacher assigned to help some of the pupils with their English. His performance of the Robert Burns classic To A Mouse is a highlight of the show, not to mention timely given that Burns Night is happening this week.
diverse musical cultures
The poem is given a new arrangement by the Battlefield Band which gives Burns’ famous words a new lease of life as Cuthbertson’s soft vocals ring through the theatre while the girls take it in turns to draw pictures of what home means to them.
Terry Neason. Pic NiallWalker
The music switches from traditional Scottish music to original anthems like We Are The Glasgow Girls – providing a taste of the diverse musical cultures a city like Glasgow has to offer. One of the highlights of the second half being the mighty It’s No A Wean’s Choice led by straight-talking neighbour Noreen played by Terry Neason.
The staging is simple and bare, comprising of nothing more than a metal frame with steps and swings which can act as a school, as a detention centre or a high-rise block of flats.
It helps to paint a picture of the bleak situation facing the asylum-seekers while focussing the attention of the strong and raw performances of the cast.
Glasgow Girls is a politically powerful piece of theatre that deserves to be seen by everyone – a pure triumph.
Running times – 1 hr 50 minutes (including interval)
Kings Theatre, Edinburgh
Wednesday 23rd to Saturday 26th January
Evenings: 7.30pm; matinees Thurs & Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.
Read our interview with Cora Bissett here: Glasgow Girls for King’s.
Glasgow Girls on tour:
23-26 Jan 2019
0131 529 6000
30 Jan – 3 Feb 2019
7-9 Feb 2019
01463 234 234
13-16 Feb 2019
+353 1 87 87 222