Glasgow Girls, Kings Theatre review Pat Byrne
Kings Theatre Glasgow 15 – 19 January, 2019
Presented by Raw Material in association with Regular Music
Conceived for the stage and directed by Cora Bissett Book by David Greig Original Musical Arrangements by Hilary Brooks
Glasgow Girls the Musical is based on the true story of seven teenage pupils attending Drumchapel High School. The girls started a petition for the release of Agnesa Murselaj, a pupil in their class seized in a dawn raid in 2005 on instructions of the Home Office. The girls’ campaign was supported by their teacher Euan Girvan and the local community. It not only challenging the detention of Agnesa and her family but raised awareness of the plight of asylum seekers, particularly from the Roma community, and their harsh treatment regarding, raids, detention and deportation.
The story is harrowing and resonates with the ‘hostile environment’ and harsh attitudes so evident in the UK today. The musical brings home the terrifying and relentless fear experienced by the asylum seekers, many of whom have fled death and torture only to find themselves at risk of being deported and returned.
Tension and fear is very well conveyed through the music, sound effects, lighting and the strident dance routines. However, the young actors also convey a sense of joy, and we see the pupils’ affection for each other as well as their strength and commitment to their cause. This takes them beyond the confines of their school and homes on the tough Glasgow estate they have grown fond of. We also follow them to the Scottish Parliament, where they gained national recognition for their campaign. They demand a stop to the dawn raids and accuse the then First Minister, Jack McConnell, of reneging on his promises. The campaign asked that consultation would take place with social services, education department, and immigration police prior to families being removed –in this scene you can sense that the audience are right there with them – fighting for what’s right.
Cora Bissett has done a remarkable job tackling this complex and emotional topic and such a well documented event. (The BBC’s documentary Tales from the Edge won the Nations and Regions Award in the Amnesty International UK Media Award). The show works well on a number of levers and apart from the drama and angst, the audience are also treated to excellent songs, super dance routines and fabulous comedic acting including by Terry Neason (Noreen) and Callum Cuthbertson (Mr Girvan).
Sophia Lewis – Roza
Terry Neason – Noreen
Stephanie McGregor – Ewelina
Patricia Panther – Ensemble / Composer
Shannon Swan – Jennifer
Kara Swinney – Emma
Aryana Ramkhalawon – Amal
Laura Jane Wilkie Musician – Fiddle
Despite the harrowing true story behind the show, it is life-affirming, joyful and received a very warm response from the Glasgow audience.
This section: What's on in Glasgow: Theatre and Comedy
Filed under: What's on in Glasgow: Theatre and Comedy
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