Raw Material Productions
Perth Theatre Perth February 02nd 2019
First staged back in 2012 by NTS Glasgow Girls is back on tour around Scotland. Whilst I was very aware of the background true story of a group of secondary school girls who banded together protesting successfully against the outrageous policy of forced repatriation to supposedly “safe” home countries of asylum seekers long settled in Scotland to be honest I had concerns about how it would sit as a piece of musical theatre. I need not have worried. The songs mixing as they do a little bit of Robert Burns alongside of quite cutting edge street beats from MC Soom T, Patricia Panther, John & Gerry Kielty and indeed director Cora Bissett in no way give this production some of the saccharine schmaltz often found in musicals.
David Greig’s writing brings forth all the indignation felt by these youngsters upon learning that one of their pals has been forcedly removed, along with her family, in the middle of the night by immigration officials and transported hundreds of miles away to await deportation despite having lived and settled here for years whilst applications for asylum were agonisingly slowly processed. This is a body of work which still today carries a strong emotional punch making you think deeply whilst also celebrating these girls as a group fighting with all the passion and real anger of youth for what they believe in.
Perhaps in these crazy mixed up times, post the Independence and Brexit referendums our local, national and world political masters should be made to watch a production like this to show that most right thinking people are not afraid of those who seek asylum. It can not be right to tear asunder lives rebuilt over years in safety, transporting to what amounts to immigration jails those children slowly gaining confidence with new lives, friendships and education following unimaginable traumas. As a society we have to be better than that.
This production is raw (sorry) and very basically staged, Indeed you might even say a tad scrappy and most certainly improvisational however that completely matches what it could and was most probably was like when the real girls started their campaign. They must not have had a clue as to how to organise and protest from their school in Drumchapel. Encouraged by their teacher, played here with a sense of world weary yet still passionate power, by Callum Cuthbertson and also showing the support gathering around the girls by the local community portrayed sardonically by Terry Neason they show moves swiftly through the time period. Beginning in the school and ending up both at the Scottish Parliament Holyrood and involving Westminster.
Whilst they did achieve some success by the very nature of placing the real story in 2005 it could be viewed as just history. If history teaches one thing it is that it can, and does, very often repeat. We are still today grappling with many of the same problems. Maybe overall the girls did not achieve a total happy ending but damn it all they tried and did fight for what they believed in. Hopefully we can continue to show that Scotland is a welcoming society where, should there be a hint of social injustice taking place in 2019, then somewhere there will be another group of angry and defiant young people willing to step up to the plate.
This show is a complete buzz of energy and angry passion throughout, filled with warmth, moving compassion and shot through with wonderful Glasgow vernacular self deprecating humour. The young cast throw themselves collectively into their roles with strong voices and cool dance moves. You will come out uplifted but also with a sense of unease at what is also wrong with society. This was no fairy tale just real life and a strange mix that I had never felt from a musical before. I highly recommend you try to catch it as it does the rounds of venues.