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Watching Glory Die review at Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh – ‘heartbreaking tale of teen in prison’

Kelli Fox, Kathryn Haggis, Nathanya Barnett

Watching Glory Die makes clear from its title where it is going to go. Based on a true story about a young woman who died in prison in Canada, it’s a bleak and unrelenting work looking at a dysfunctional criminal “justice” system that trapped this teen, her mother and her prison guard in a place none could escape from. It’s a tragedy by any measure.

14-year-old Glory is put in jail for throwing crab apples at the postman. Somehow a six-month sentence turns into five years because every time she acts out in prison her sentence is extended. Once she’s an adult at 18, her mother can no longer get updates on Glory’s status. As Glory begins to descend into hallucinations and mental illness, there is no one to catch her, least of all the guards who have been instructed to not act on her suicide attempts until she turns “blue”.

Every aspect of this story is galling. The play has its heart in the right place to expose the social injustice. Unfortunately, it is heavy-handed, riddled with clichéd gestures, over-punctuating music, and lecturing. It needs none of this underlining to make its points.

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Heartbreaking tale of teen in prison theatrically overemphasized