REVIEW: THE GLASGOW GIRLS – (Theatre Royal Stratford) ✮✮✮

By Charly Ralph

Cora Bissett’s Glasgow Girls first took to the Stratford stage in 2013 and won both audiences and critics over winning the ‘Off West End’ Best New Musical Award. The gritty, regional production tells the true story of a group of teenage girls from Glasgow, Scotland who campaigned against the poor treatment of asylum seekers within their community.

Roanna Davidson (Agnesa), Sophia Lewis (Roza), Stephanie McGregor (Ewelina), Shannon Swan (Jennifer), Kara Swinney (Emma) and Aryana Ramkhalawon (Amal) share a wonderful chemistry on stage as they portray the passion and determination of the young girls battling to make a change.

Credit – Andrew Wilson

Their unbridled energy and occasional sense of naivety reflect the girls’ age, yet led by Callum Cuthbertson’s endearing and often humorous Mr Girvan, they find the confidence in their convictions to create a well-orchestrated political movement.

Initially I was unsure how the story would lend itself to a musical, but the music and dance throughout infuses the sights and sounds of the multicultural community that has arisen on the Glasgow estate and enhances David Greig’s sincere book. The clever use of movement to enact the story being told, especially the plane sequence in the second act, really brings the severity of events taking place to life.

The themes of asylum and integration are just as rife now as they were when the Glasgow Girls began their campaign, if not more so. Although complex, they are themes that should be discussed and this production shines a light on a community, similar to many across the UK, where they are a part of everyday life.

Credit – Andrew Wilson

Although lacking the finesse of other musical productions, the sense of community is at the heart of the Glasgow Girls as its story continues to inspire others to stand up for what they believe. A wonderful piece of authentic theatre.

Glasgow Girls is playing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East until Saturday 1st October before returning to Scotland on the 12th October for a five show run at the Dundee Rep Theatre

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