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Theatre Review: Glasgow Girls ****

Scott Purvis reviews a production that 'will inspire younger audiences to challenge the world they live it'.

When the British public exercised its democratic voice on Brexit, one issue arguably guided the polling booth pencil more than any other: immigration. Whether they wanted to build walls like Trump or tear them down like in Berlin, the debate has become perhaps the most divisive in world politics.

It's timely, therefore, that the National Theatre of Scotland's 2012 musical Glasgow Girls finds itself in the spotlight once again. A story of friendship and fear amidst the dark clouds of dawn raids, the funny piece tells the story of a group of pupils from Drumchapel High who respond to the detention of their asylum seeker friend by kickstarting a political campaign to have her released. Through fresh and dynamic physical theatre and some empowering choreography by Natasha Gilmore, the show blends the diverse cultures of our new Scotland in a fun and energetic way.

David Greig's book is at once funny and devastating, parrying "get it roon ye" jokes with scenes which strike at the heart like a brick through a window. Interspersed with pounding, witty songs of hope and defiance, the piece bounces with a life of its own, a spirit of youthful vitality against a cold adult world. Terry Neason's outstanding, booming performance of "It's No a Wean's Choice" was rousing, a "We're All Jock Tamson's Barins" for the 21st century. Patricia Panther's excellent performance of "At It", too, distilled the prejudices of our Daily Mail moulded media in a wry, satirical way.

Sadly, nonetheless, much of the cleverness of the composers' lyrics were lost amongst the production's at times poor sound - several songs, particularly during Callum Cuthbertson's turn as Jack McConnell, were almost entirely inaudible against the band. As fun as the piece is, it offers much more to a teenage audience than an adult one - there are moments where the dialogue, acting and simple set design feels a little like a PSHE lesson with a fun teacher.

And that's the point, perhaps. In a year of massive political fatigue, it's exciting to see a show which puts the power to change politics in the hands of those most made most vulnerable by it. In a world made cold by the bureaucracy and passivity of adults, this piece will inspire younger audiences to challenge the world they live in, and win.

On tour until February 9th.

Tags: theatre

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