Tag Archives: Natasha Gilmore

REVIEW: The River – The Briggait, Glasgow

This review was originally written for the Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-river-the-briggait-glasgow/

Choreographer: Natasha Gilmore

Musical Director: Quee MacArthur

With a cast of 150, Barrowland Ballet’s The River takes us on a literal and artistic journey with dance, live music and song, along the banks of the river on which the city of Glasgow is built – the Clyde.

Exploring the stories of those who make the city their home and the vibrancy they bring to its ever-changing culture, this is a joyous, at times poignant, but ultimately life-affirming story of the pain of leaving and the joy of new beginnings.

Beginning our journey in the Briggait we process Mardi Gras style, accompanied by a brass band, across the busy roads of the city centre to the banks of the river itself. There is dance, music, song and storytelling as we travel along, at times uplifted, at times moved, and often amused.

Much of the joy of the piece is in the reactions of the passers-by as they happen upon this glorious spectacle, made up of both locals and the vast number of tourists in the city for the Commonwealth Games, their curious looks turning to smiles as they embrace this eccentric endeavour.  Indeed the size of the audience seems to swell as the journey progresses.

The mix of traditional and contemporary music is eclectic and entertaining; from traditional work songs through Jimi Hendrix’ “Crosstown Traffic”  to the Proclaimers’ “ 500 Miles”, each is delivered with gusto by the cast. One of the most appealing aspects of the whole production is the sheer joy on the faces of the performers, joy in both their enthusiasm for the piece and joy at the reaction they have elicited from the receptive audience.

This is an uplifting experience, a wonderful opportunity for the citizens of Glasgow to take part in a shared experience that celebrates the ever-changing life of this city. It will send you back onto the streets with joy in your heart and a spring in your step and a renewed pride in this wonderful place.

Reviewed: July 21st

Image: Chih Peng Lucas Kao

REVIEW: Glasgow Girls – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 09.20.19First published at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/glasgow-girls-citizens-theatre-glasgow/

Writer: David Greig

Composers: Cora Bissett, The Kielty Brothers, Patricia Panther & MC Soom T

Director: Cora Bissett

Glasgow 2005, and the city and its high rise blocks have become home to a diverse range of asylum seekers. Drumchapel High School has become the focus for the children of these asylum seekers, but it’s a world where night-time raids happen with alarming frequency and children arrive at school every day to find out whether another classmate has disappeared, never to be seen again.

Glasgow Girls explores the true story of seven teenage girls for whom the situation has become personal. Together with their neighbours and one inspiring teacher, the girls embark on a campaign to secure the return of their friend  Kosovan Roma Agnesa Murselaj, forcibly removed and detained after a nigh-time raid, and fight to change the UK Government’s policy on the detention of children of asylum seekers.

Returning triumphant to its spiritual home at the Citizens Theatre, two years after it’s debut, Glasgow Girlscouldn’t be more relevant in the year Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games and undertakes an historic vote in the Independence Referendum. It highlights the spirit of the Glaswegian people, their reaction to injustice and Glasgow’s protectiveness of those who choose to call the city home.

From dawn raids, deportation and detention, there is humour, hope and heart in this powerful, poignant, profound but utterly joyous and truly emotive piece of theatre. The subject matter is hard hitting for a musical and to its credit the book written by David Grieg, who’s last high profile work Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, continues to run in the West End, hasn’t shied away from portraying the less positive aspects of both the campaign and life in Glasgow, resisting both the urge to sugar coat the subject matter and descend into mawkish sentimentality. It also highlights the impotency of the Holyrood Government in the face of opposition from Westminster (it’s also the most eloquent advert for the YES campaign you’ll see or hear this year). Instead this is a bold, brave, blistering, beautiful joy to behold. The story is told with trademark Glaswegian humour which takes no prisoners and is consistently laugh out loud funny.

The music is as diverse as the girls it represents, there are modern musical theatre numbers with a Scottish twist by The Kielty Brothers and director/composer Cora Bissett, rap and urban tunes by Patricia Panther and MC Soom T. The spare but atmospheric set by Merle Hensel also compliments the story well: conjuring up the grey concrete of Glasgow’s high rise blocks perfectly.

The whole endeavour though, would not succeed as it does without the truly sensational cast. Each and every one is deserving of praise but special mention must go to the ‘grown ups’ Callum Cuthbertson as Mr. Girvan and Scottish theatrical legend Myra McFadyen as Noreen, both deliver perfectly judged performances: in turn, poignant, stirring, compelling and utterly hysterical.

Glasgow Girls has a sharp intelligent edge and is a perfect reflection of the big heart and community spirit of the city of its title, of female solidarity and of what we can all achieve if we put our hearts and minds together. Genuinely moving and inspiring. Utterly unmissable.

Runs until 8 March 2014

Photographic credit: Drew Farrell