Wages are being cut, and a strike led by would-be writer Isa looks imminent. Elsewhere, legendary singer and Spanish Civil War veteran Paul Robeson is booked to play the Caird Hall, and auditions are under way for a local choir to back him up.
In some respects, the latter element reflects the sheer scale of Jemima Levick's production, which puts some 40 women onstage to deal with Macdonald's multi-layered narrative. This begins with a sick child, a loaded gun and some mass constructivist choreography before opening up Alex Lowde's huge skewed tenement set where smaller lives epitomised by Isa and her feisty sisters dwell.
If Isa's aspirations lead towards Spain, other women make different choices. For some, sexual allure will keep them in glad rags, while mill owner's wife Moira Blair short-changed herself years ago. Even Isa, luminously played Joanne Cummins, must face up to brutal realities beyond the romance of revolution and the liberating power of song.
The choir's auditions rub up against the tenement scenes with a busyness that at times feels overloaded. That's not to say this isn't a play full of heart and soul, led as it is by a principal cast of nine featuring such mighty talents as Barbara Rafferty, Carol Ann Crawford and Morag Stark, supported by the Rep's Young Company and Community Company. When the onstage chorus drawn from the theatre's Women's Singing Group accompany Robeson's recorded voice at the play's most poignant moment, its power is immense.