2005. The Home Office has just declared a number of war torn countries ‘safe’ and Britain’s refugees are being forcibly removed from their homes and deported. Unfortunately the Home Office hadn’t anticipated a ragtag resistance from a group of schoolgirls who would later become known as the
A welcome addition to the collection of politically engaged musicals
It goes without saying then that Cora Bisset and David Greig’s musical retelling of this real life story is the perfect feel good antidote to anyone worrying about the current state of Britain. Its loveable characters and rousing songs prove to be more than uplifting and gives you hope in ordinary people’s ability to enact political change.
The cast are admirable in their energy and excellent comic timing though it must be noted that the characterisation does descend into easy stereotypes at points which may provide ample comic material but also seems to be used for easy laughs rather than any dramatic need. Additionally the nature of transferring this story into a musical is that the complexities are rendered incredibly simplistic and doesn’t allow for many grey areas in such a black and white production. For example the Home Office raids appear to be based on Michael Jackson militaristic dance routines with the cast singing “There’s nowhere to run / There’s nowhere to hide.” While it’s a fantastic visual spectacle it feels like it’s taken the easy option only offers a one-sided argument. Elements of complexity emerge from the characters of Noreen, a woman who lives in the same estate as the Glasgow Girls, and their head-teacher who both highlight some of the structural difficulties and problems that the young schoolgirls aren’t yet old enough to understand.
Nevertheless one has to remember that this a musical that doesn’t necessarily strive for strict realism, considering the naive perspectives of the protagonists. Despite the fact that it simplifies many of the issues it is still impressive that it’s dealing with such current and important issues with such a popular form to engage with a wider audience. It’s a welcome addition to the collection of politically engaged musicals and I’m intrigued to see what comes next.