If you can find it, there is some brilliant (and also free – bonus!) storytelling nestled beneath a dark, dingy pub at this year’s Fringe.
Gilani’s portrayal is on point and makes the most out of the rich, visual language of the text
Ikram Gilani is an unassuming man. He sits quietly on a chair as the audience settle down in the tiny mismatched chairs around the room and we make ourselves comfortable. But when he begins the performance, he fills the room with energy. He has an electric presence, a casual brilliance that makes him compelling to watch.
The script itself is well-observed and cleverly constructed. It tells the story in two time frames: that of the present day police interrogation and that of the past, as the character recounts days spent with his elusive friend, Moody. The story explores, in a fresh and original way, the broad topic of personal identity through identification with religious, cultural and national identities, as well as the oppression of stereotypes. Despite the serious questions and the dark undertones, this is an uplifting piece and there are many laughs to be had.
The central character is endearing in his naivety and brazen honesty. Gilani’s portrayal is on point and makes the most out of the rich, visual language of the text, written by Henry Bell and Sara Shaarawi.
However, there were times I got lost: I found it difficult to see from where I was sitting and once you lose your footing on this piece, it is hard to find it again.
The simple, pared-back production works well with the grounded honesty and Gilani’s compelling performance, but otherwise there is not much to satisfy you visually in this show.
All in all, this is a show well worth tracking down. If simple, true and excellent storytelling is what you’re after, this hits the nail on the head.