THEATRE; Highlands and Irelands

Mayfest round-up Glasgow

With no documentary proof of his identity or his past, the Ugandan refugee Joseph Omara finds himself at the mercy of Ireland's hostile Aliens Office in Wiseguise's touring production of Donal O'Kelly's Asylum! Asylum! In the contemporary context of increasingly strict external immigration controls throughout Europe, O'Kelly is careful to stress that Omara would receive similar treatment in many other EU states. But this is much more than an angry "issue" play. The intolerance and prejudice embedded in the state's immigration procedures are reflected in the divisions that have grown up in the family of Omara's principal captor, Leo Gaughran. By the time O'Kelly's tight narrative is fully uncoiled, the complexities of achieving public and private understanding have become inseparable.

Kenneth Glenaan directs his excellent cast with pace and vigour, never allowing the anger of the play's confrontations to boil over into melodrama. O'Kelly's command of his material is masterful, not least in the way he slips lyrical and sometimes painfully resonant images into otherwise naturalistic dialogue. With perfect English and a love of Churchillian prose inherited from his father, David Baker's Omara is perhaps an unusual immigrant but without doubt a magnificently articulate champion for O'Kelly's cause. Omara cannot escape from the "smell of smoke" associated with his ordeal in Uganda; Asylum! Asylum! alerts us to the dangers of similar fires already ignited in Europe.

John Binnie's adaptation for Clyde Unity of Margaret Thomson Davis' popular novel Breadmakers offers a rich slice of Govan life in the late 1920s. Opening on the eve of the annual Govan Fair, Breadmakers centres on the owner and workers at the McNair bakery, who ride the hard times of the Great Depression on monopolistic (and metaphorically life-affirming) clouds of flour.

In a largely light-hearted first half, Binnie leads us into the lives of his characters in a deft series of encounters, more sketches than scenes. There's an irresistible cheek about the performance style, too. But all the while, Binnie is preparing the ground for the darker events of the second half. In his writing and under his direction, the change in tone is unobtrusive and compelling. Comic grotesques, such as Hope Ross's Mother Fowler, become genuine monsters, while Linda Duncan McLaughlin as frail Sarah Fowler and Mari Binnie as wide-eyed Catriona Munro metamorphose unassumingly into authentically tragic figures.

Carl MacDougall's new play The Climbing Boy is set in the maelstrom of 1840 Glasgow, straining at its seams with a constant influx of immigrants cleared from their homes in the Highlands and in Ireland.Unfortunately, MacDougall finds himself torn between telling the story of the Nolan family, whose five-year-old son becomes the chimney sweep of the title, and describing the wider drama of the society into which they have fallen. The (real) events The Climbing Boy follows are enough to keep you in your seat but the play never takes off as it should.

n `Asylum! Asylum!' is at the Arches Theatre (0141 221 9736) to 20 May, then on tour: 0131 557 5918. `The Breadmakers' is at the Citizens' Theatre to 20 May (0141 429 0022), then on tour: 0141 353 0905. `The Climbing Boy' is at the Cottier Theatre (0141 357 3868) to 20 May, then on tour: 0141 631 2267

Richard Loup-Nolan

Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape