Glasgow Girls, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
**** (4 stars)
“Together we are strong” is the refrain that haunts me as I leave the theatre and go out into the dark, wet night. I have a home to go to and, despite being a Sassenach invader, I have a home in Scotland and the right to stay there, not to be forcibly removed in the middle of the night, taken to a detention centre, and threatened with removal to a war-torn country that is not safe for me to be in. But this is the fate of men, women, and CHILDREN, because despite the Scots law that protects the child, refugee and asylum-seeker matters are devolved to Westminster and seemingly we Scots are powerless to prevent forcible detention, imprisonment and deportation.
But this is not so: six schoolgirls from Drumchapel High School, one of the most deprived schools in one of the poorest areas of Glasgow, have shown us the way – are we brave enough to follow their lead? We may not always win – but that’s no reason not to fight: each little act to oppose both the injustices and the ocean of prejudice and misinformation with which we are constantly bombarded is another addition to the ocean of love and compassion which opposes all the negative attitudes: we’re all Jock Tamsin’s bairns, we’re all Scotland’s weans, and hurt to me hurts everyone around me.
David Greig and Cora Bisset’s show celebrates the six girls who changed the world around them. Powerful music, electric energy, moving situations, brutal imagery depicting the disproportionate force and brutality used against people who are offering no resistance – does it really take ten men to arrest a mother and her small son?? – and the power of the Noreens and Jeans of this world who stand up for their neighbours and time and again defy the forces of the law who believe they have right on their side combine to produce a show which blazes with the Scottish sense of justice and fair play for everyone who lives here.
It’s a powerful show, with a message that is even more relevant today than when the show was first written. A magnificent selection of heart-felt songs, a cast of nine who manage to be so many different people during the course of the show, good and bad alike, and a superb fiddle player who keens and laments and celebrates with the girls and their neighbours, proclaim the feisty spirit of the people of Scotland who will not stand by and see injustice and unfair treatment of innocent people, but will fight with every means they can find to oppose it – and invite and inspire us the audience to join in the struggle, even though there is no guarantee of victory.
There were rousing cheers from the audience for the songs, bursts of laughter at ourselves and our typical Scots reaction to things and situations, and prolonged and vociferous applause at the end of the show. The only reason I’ve not given five stars is that the amplification was such that some of the words of the songs were inaudible – and maybe had I been sitting in a different seat this would not have been a problem. It’s another David Greig/ Cora Bisset unmissable show – who will go out tomorrow and start to change the world, little by little?
Together we are strong….
Glasgow Girls, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh Run Ended, Production tours to Perth Theatre, Perth January 30th and Eden Court Theatre, Inverness 7th -9th February.
Review by Mary Woodward.