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Shang - A - Lang at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

Published by: Cameron Lowe on 21st Nov 2013 | View all blogs by Cameron Lowe
Review by Sean Stirling

Shang A Lang

From the pen of the Catherine Johnson, the woman who sewed the plot round Abba's back catalogue of songs to create the international hit 'Mamma Mia', comes Shang-A-Lang presented here by Rapture Theatre. Based in Scotland this theatre company sets out to produce plays that would not normally venture north of the border. 

The play’s title comes from the 1974 hit single by glam rock sensations the Bay City Rollers; the One Direction of their day. The original production opened in London in 1998 and Rapture have been allowed to doctor the script slightly to include local accents and references. To be honest I can't imagine it being done any other way as it brings the play back to the “Rollers” place of origin.
 
Like Mamma Mia, the play centres round 3 women who have been friends since high school and are about to hit the big 4 0. First of all, there is Pauline (played by Lyn McAndrew), the sad single girl who nothing goes right for and who likes to remind everyone just how pathetic her life is. Then there is Jackie (Val Gogan) who is "happily" married and living in her husband's shadow. And finally we have Lauren (Julie Duncanson) the drunk, loud-mouthed, self-confessed slapper.
 
The three have arrived at Butlin's holiday camp for a 70's revival weekend where the girls plan to see their teenage idol’s; the Bay City Rollers. As the weekend unfolds the girls reminisce about the old days and come to the realisation that while some things have changed, there are some things that never change and, like the teenage girls they were in school, they long for each other’s lives.
 
All three actresses convincingly brought their characters to life and it seemed that a number of audience members could empathize with their predicaments.
 
Support comes from Stewart Porter as Vince and Iain Robertson as Carl, both members of a 70’s tribute band and who aim to make themselves fully available to women attending the revival, an idea they are soon to regret upon an encounter with Pauline, Jackie and Lauren. 
 
There are some very funny moments in the play but also some very strong language and full frontal nudity, so is not for the easily offended.
A soundtrack of 70’s hits are used throughout the play, mainly as interludes to change the simple but effective set. Occasionally these interludes verge on being slightly too long, perhaps this would be more entertaining if performed by a live tribute band, similar to the way live music is used in ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’. The rousing finale did bring the audience to their feet and they were happy to sing and dance along while waving their tartan Roller scarves.
 
The direction of Michael Emans is slick and serves he piece well. I particularly enjoyed the scene set in two different locations but staged in the same space creating an interesting overlapping juxtaposition for the play’s main characters. Choreographer Natasha Gilmore has created routines that truly encapsulate the era of bell bottom trousers and platform heels.
 
Shang A Lang
Kings Theatre, Glasgow
19 - 23 November 2013
Tickets £12.40 - £32.90
Order Tickets Online 

Comments

2 Comments

  • GRAHAM CLARK
    by GRAHAM CLARK 4 years ago
    Who would have thought that there would be a Bay City Rollers musical! I hope that the show goes on a national tour.
  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 4 years ago
    Ha ha, yes, Graham! Why not?
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