Glasgow Girls [image by Drew Farrell]
During the second act of Glasgow Girls the words 'This isn't a musical, this is politics' are proclaimed by Mr. Girvan (Callum Cuthbertson). It is in this way that the writer, David Greig sums up concisely the manifesto of the play, be entertained but do not take the subject matter lightly. The play is based upon the true story of a group of adolescents who manage to get themselves noticed by the Scottish government despite being members of society's voiceless masses. A mixture of lower working class and asylum seeker teenagers; they form a strong bond of friendship that empowers them to fight when one of their number is threatened with deportation.
Glasgow Girls is family entertainment at its very best, fun and energetic but not afraid to shy away from difficult themes.
I found Glasgow Girls to be an incredibly touching play because it always remains rooted around the human story. There are many jarring tonal shifts but it is to the director's (Cora Bissett) talents that she manages to weave these together in a way that doesn't leave the audience adrift. Each set piece always packs an incredible punch due to the talented cast, most notably stand out performances from Myra McFadyen (Noreen) and Dawn Sievewright (Jennifer). But even as the musical bounces along merrily, its effort to show all aspects of the issue is at the detriment of the narrative leaving the necessity to tie it all together with verbose explanations.
As is often said by reviewers, a musical lives or dies by its songs and Glasgow Girls rides high on its many superb compositions. It is a testament to the musical team led by Hilary Brooks that seamlessly brings together so many styles of music, which evoke the native countries of the gang. So by the end when the girls sing the closing song ''From the 16th Floor" which is a love letter to their home of Glasgow, I was well and truly won over. As with Matilda, Glasgow Girls is family entertainment at its very best, fun and energetic but not afraid to shy away from difficult themes.
Glasgow Girls is at Theatre Royal Stratford East until March 2, 2013