Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Glasgow Girls (Formal Review)

Photo: Drew Farrell
Even at the beginning of Glasgow Girls, both script and cast seem uncertain that a musical is the appropriate format for the true story of a brave battle against an impersonal system. Inspired by a group of teenagers, who stood up to the vicious treatment of asylum seekers by the British state - dawn raids, an assumption of dishonesty, an institutional racism - Cora Bisset, aided by David Greig, uses the musical as a tool to express the energy and friendships that helped the Glasgow Girls reinvent the art of protest.

There are various moments when Greig's script mock the conventions of the musical - Myra MacFayden refuses to sing just because her emotions are full (just before bursting into song) and the introductory number echoes Team America's parody montage song. Yet Bissett's unconventional choice of genre pulls the story away from simple agit-prop: both celebration and sinister threat, in particular through Patricia Panther's menacing r'n'b style vocals, are convincingly covered and even the most political moments - Tommy Sheridan's speech, taken verbatim from Holyrood records, or former first minister Jack McConnell's promise to end dawn raids - are given a humorous charm.

Despite excellent performances from the young cast, Bissett's intention to highlight the suffering of asylum seekers, and demonstrate how even a small group can make a difference, is never lost in the razzmatazz. The strict laws of the state are exposed as brutal, inhuman and even in defeat, the resilience of the Glasgow community is evident. Undeniably life-affirming, but with a bitter-sweet ending and a sharp political edge, Glasgow Girls is further evidence that Scottish theatre is capable of taking the debate back to the politicians.

Until 17 November @ The Citizens

No comments :

Post a comment