Saturday, 23 November 2013

Glasgow Girls is back

Theatre must be getting like films these days: look at this selection of companies.

National Theatre of Scotland, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Citizens Theatre, Richard Jordan Productions Ltd and Pachamama Productions, in association with Merrigong Theatre Company (Australia)
It took all of them to make Glasgow Girls - a musical, inspired by a true story and taken to the stage by Cora Bisset, with a little help from David Greig, Sumati Bhardwaj (Soom T), Patricia Panther and the Kielty Brothers. 

And Musical Direction & Arrangements by Hilary Brooks, Associate Musical Direction by Jon Beales, Set Design by Merle Hensel, Lighting Design by Lizzie Powell, Sound Design by Fergus O’Hare, Choreography by Natasha Gilmore.

I guess this isn't the most inspiring way to start off a preview of what is, after all, a rare example of a contemporary musical set and staged in Scotland. It has a tough political edge, and an urban (not my favourite adjective but appropriate here, for once) vibe to the tunes. But there is something in the amount of people involved that says something about the collaborative nature of theatre. Descriptions and opinions are all very well, but sometimes the names and numbers count for more.

Pulling out a few strands - Natasha Gilmore was on fire recently - her Tiger was choreography that acknowledged both the emotive potential of dance and played around with format in a sophisticated, refreshing manner. Cora Bisset deserves to be a big film star - although there isn't really a Scottish industry that supports this. In the meantime, she is applying her talents to intriguing mash-ups like this - a musical that is political that is cheerful. David Greig needs no introduction either. He writes some. 

20 February until 8 March 2014 at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

The mainstream press had a few words to say. That the Express and the Telegraph gave respect to a show that, essentially, critiqued the government's policy on immigration is impressive. Then again, I am not sure about the effectiveness of these comments: I can't name any politically engaged British musicals apart from Blood Brothers. As for a milestone... that would suggest there is a theatrical journey going on, and I don't see enough musicals made in Scotland to suggest that Glasgow Girls marks a moment in their evolution.

Tum-de-dum. "Worth seeing because it tells a story about Glasgow's recent history and has a couple of toe-tapping hits" doesn't look so good on the bill-board. How about - "better than most television, and certainly rewards the effort of going out on a cold evening?" These do have the advantage of being 'entirely true'.

“Staged and performed with an integrity that makes it the most politically engaged and enraged British musical since Blood Brothers, but it is even more raw and heartbreaking because it is entirely true.”

★★★★★ Sunday Express

‘There can be little doubt that Bissett and co have created a significant milestone in Scottish musical theatre.’

★★★★ Daily Telegraph



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