In 2005, a group of seven schoolgirls from Glasgow launched a campaign against the treatment of asylum seekers in their city after the detention of one of their school friends. They specifically targeted issues of child detention, dawn raids and sudden deportation, which affected many of their neighbours and peers. Cora Bissett, director of Glasgow Girls came up with the idea to put their story onstage. The emotive power and feisty teenage energy keep the show engaging and propel it forward, even where plot is a little thin on the ground. The girls keep up with the punchy girl-power fight for justice until the end (despite a wobble in the middle), but it’s hard to hide the truth – their fight isn’t over yet.
Yet this adds to the poignancy of their legacy. Their story may have begun over ten years ago now, but it is more relevant than ever. This humanisation of the asylum-seeking families of newspaper headlines is moving and necessary, successfully resisting a drift into over-sentimentality thanks to a carefully written book by David Greig. The soundtrack is pop centric, weaving in influences of world music. It is a delightful and uplifting mish-mash of songs that complements the storyline throughout.
This is a story about friendship, political activism and Glasgow, a place that against all the odds has become a home to those seeking safety from conflict in their own countries. The real-life truth behind Glasgow Girls has immense power and means we are able to forgive some of the weaknesses of the show. It is eye opening, life affirming and a lot of fun. The tale of these teenage activists leaves us with the niggling feeling that there are lessons here we could all learn from.