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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Glasgow Girls, theatre review

Published in the Guardian

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars
AS the librettist for the forthcoming musical adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, David Greig knows all about the demands of a traditional West End show. By contrast, Glasgow Girls, the playwright's current song-and-dance outing, refuses to play by conventional musical rules.

In this co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland, the Citizens and Theatre Royal Stratford East, he tells the true story of seven pupils from Drumchapel high school who, in 2005, launched a campaign against dawn raids, child detention and deportations of asylum seekers. Yet, for all their success in getting press coverage, a debate in the Scottish parliament and, indeed, a musical written about them, the girls have yet to reach the happy ending they deserve. "Our story is mostly about photocopying," says one in a characteristically sardonic assessment.

Although Glasgow Girls fizzes with sisters-doing-it-for-themselves energy, it resists the genre's pull towards sentimentality. A case in point is the concerned neighbour (played by Myra McFadyen in one of a series of delightfully deadpan cameos), who explains she would rather be expressing her political anger in words than in music. Only then does she give us the song.

The soundtrack, too, with its world-music arrangements and pop sensibility, is free of showbiz schmaltz. With a more rigorously commercial approach, the producers might have dropped the songs that don't move the plot forward. They might also have demanded a bit more plot.

That, however, would be to underestimate the emotive power of a story driven by righteous adolescent anger. We are moved by the truth of the real-life story, the thrill of political engagement and, in a production conceived and directed by Cora Bissett, who also contributes several songs, the infectious girl-power feistiness of her young company.
© Mark Fisher, 2012 (pic: Drew Farrell)

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