Teenage rebellion is channelled to awe-inspiring effect in this bold, ballsy musical. Based on actual events, it’s conceived and directed by Cora Bissett with a book by David Greig.
The real Glasgow Girls were seven schoolmates – four of them from asylum-seeker households – who formed a fiercely loyal friendship at the sharp end of Blairite immigration policy.
They were thrown together after a number of families who arrived in Britain fleeing violence and persecution were bussed to Glasgow, ‘a city statistically sickly and white’. Once they’d recovered from the culture shock, they developed a deep attachment to their new home – only for many to find themselves facing deportation a few years later.
Appalled by brutal Border Agency dawn raids and their friends’ consignment to an uncertain future in turbulent countries, the girls turned activists, launching a life-changing, award-winning campaign for asylum seekers’ rights.
The polemic is sometimes clunky, and there are lapses into mawkishness. But the show has a rough-edged exuberance, a blunt force and a salty wit. The songs and choreography reflect a rich multicultural mix, hip hop and grime rubbing up against lilting gypsy melodies and Scots folk tunes. The friction causes sparks that give the piece its warmth as well as its provocative attitude. Both – whatever the imperfections – are hard to resist. Sam Marlowe