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

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living