Writer: David Greig
Director: Cora Bissett
Composer: Cora Bissett
Reviewer: Ciara L. Murphy
“You can’t change everything, but you can change something.”
Glasgow Girls opens at the Abbey Theatre this week amid a sea of ongoing controversy surrounding programming at Ireland’s National Theatre. Glasgow Girls is not exactly a typical Abbey production, so does it deserve its place on Ireland’s national stage? The answer is yes, and no.
Glasgow Girls certainly packs the political punch that Abbey audiences have come to expect. Based on a true story about several teenage girls from Glasgow protesting the poor treatment of asylum seekers in Britain, the timing could not be more relevant. The show, first produced in 2012, has more resonance now in an era of Brexit uncertainty and increasing tensions around global migration.
The ensemble are energetic, punchy and engaging delivering a myriad of enjoyable and entertaining performances. However although the concept is timely, this reviewer feels that it is not compositionally consistent. Act Two is much stronger than Act One, and there is a dissonance between less effective songs like ‘At It’ that jar with the energy of the production as a whole.
There are stand out performances from Terry Neason, who plays Noreen, and Callum Cuthbertson who plays the maligned Mr. Girvan. Neason parses the tropes of musical theatre for the audience, breaking the fourth wall and delivering some of the best one-liners of the show. Cuthbertson is consistently funny, with excellent timing and transitions effortlessly between roles.
The Glasgow Girls themselves (Sophia Lewis, Aryana Ramkhalawon, Chiara Sparkes, Shannon Swan, Kara Swinney, and Laura Jane Wilkie) are energetic and engaging, although the ensemble could be more consistent in places.
The final number leaves the audience on a high note and is also a delightfully unsatisfying ending for this reviewer. Although it doesn’t always hit its mark, Glasgow Girls delivers an entertaining evening at the theatre.
Runs until 16 February 2019 | Image: Contributed