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Glasgow Girls

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars `
When a group of teenage asylum seekers and their pals took on a system 
that sanctioned dawn raids that resulted in incarceration and 
deportation, they not only shamed the politicians who allowed such 
atrocities to happen. They also united a working class community and 
changed lives forever. The fact that this true story reimagined here as 
a large-scale musical happened less than a decade ago on the streets of 
Glasgow is an even more disgraceful pointer to how human rights are 
casually breached on our own doorstep.

Cora Bissett’s production for the Citizens, National Theatre of 
Scotland and a host of other partners may sucker-punch the audience 
with a knowingly schmaltzy if slightly too self-referential feel-good 
opening. The emotional impact of the show, however, as conceived by 
director Cora Bissett with writer David Greig and composers Soom T, 
Patricia Panther and the Kielty Brothers under the musical direction of 
Hilary Brooks, is undeniable.

Not all of the first half grabs you by the throat as it should, with 
only Panther’s moody vocal as a police-woman having volume and oomph 
enough to fully connect. The second half is a different story, and from 
a chilling out-front re-enactment of how one family are hauled off to 
the airport onwards, the last third of the show makes for a 
devastatingly of-the-moment piece of political theatre.

What the play lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in heart, and 
never forgets for a second that it’s dealing with real lives. This is 
brought home even more when the real Glasgow girls join the fantastic 
all-singing, all-dancing cast onstage for a curtain-call that’s both 
celebration and call to arms.

The Herald, November 5th 2012

ends


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