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Glasgow Girls review at Theatre Royal Stratford East, London – ‘more relevant than ever’

The cast of Glasgow Girls at Theatre Royal Stratford East, London. Photo: Andrew Wilson The cast of Glasgow Girls at Theatre Royal Stratford East, London. Photo: Andrew Wilson
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The return of Glasgow Girls – first seen at the Citizens Theatre in 2012 in a production by the National Theatre of Scotland that subsequently transferred to Stratford East – is both a cause for celebration but also gives one pause for thought.

It is a musical that matters – especially now, post Brexit, as it proves that not everyone is afraid of asylum seekers. It feels more relevant than ever and should be compulsory viewing for the Nigel Farages and Donald Trumps of this world.

Based on a true story, Glasgow Girls isn’t party political. It’s a highly engaged and enraged piece about human politics and how we function as a society. Conceived, directed and co-composed by Cora Bissett,it portrays the human costs of migration policy, particularly on vulnerable and already traumatised young refugee children who’ve made a new life and new friends in Britain, only to find the Home Office trying to return them to their home countries now that they’re deemed safe.

Bissett and playwright David Greig tell the story of the seven Glasgow schoolgirls who launched a campaign against the detention and threatened deportation of one of their school friends – and took it all the way to the Scottish parliament at Holyrood. It’s a defiant expression of how community activism can work.

This new, updated touring version retains the scrappy, improvisational feel of the original, combining punchy protest songs with human warmth and righteous anger, and the young ensemble cast respond to this with raw energy.

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Verdict
A musical of and about community engagement that pulses with feeling and heart
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