When a group of teenage asylum seekers and their pals took on a system that sanctioned dawn raids, they not only shamed the politicians who allowed such atrocities to happen – they also united a working-class community and changed lives forever. The fact that this true story, reimagined here as a large-scale musical, happened less than a decade ago on the streets of Glasgow is an even more disgraceful pointer to how human rights are casually breached on our doorstep.
Cora Bissett's production for the Citizens, National Theatre of Scotland and a host of other partners may sucker-punch the audience with a knowingly schmaltzy feel-good opening, but the emotional impact of the show, as conceived by director Bissett with writer David Greig and composers Soom T, Patricia Panther and the Kielty Brothers, is undeniable.
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Not all of the first half grabs you by the throat as it should, with only Panther's moody vocal as a police-woman having volume and oomph enough to fully connect. The second half is a different story, and from a chilling out-front re-enactment of a family being hauled off to the airport onwards, the last third of the show makes for a devastatingly of-the-moment piece of political theatre.
What the play lacks in sophistication it makes up for in heart, and it never forgets that it's dealing with real lives. This is brought home even more when the real Glasgow Girls join the fantastic all-singing, all-dancing cast onstage for a curtain call that's both celebration and call to arms.