Written by Sara Shaarawi and Henry Bell, Lifted is a one-man show performed by Ikram Gilani that explores racism and Islamophobia. By focusing on two Asian Muslim men who seem very different from each other, the play looks at how the inability to fit in automatically makes you a target to authorities. The themes of racism, alienation, familial expectation, and sexuality are present which provides space for a weighty discussion, however the writing loses its course on the way.
A young Scottish Pakistani man (Gilani) is being interrogated by the police about his friend Moody, a Kuwaiti Student from St Andrews Uni. He doesn’t know what he has to do with Moody’s arrest, they’re just acquaintances. As the story continues, we find out more about the two characters and their lives, as well as the religion they both share but practice differently.
Gilani successfully brings to life the character’s humour and naivety, and his comedic timing makes him brilliantly engaging. The topics discussed are rich and relevant in the current debates about immigration, and while the text manages to draw interest in the beginning, around the middle mark it starts to drag. In the first half of the play we find out how the two characters met, what the two boys did together for fun, both their religious backgrounds, and Moody’s relationship with his family back home. As the play moves into the second half, we are supplied with anecdotes about the two and the things they got up to before their arrest. This would be fine if the story culminated to a dynamic ending, but it doesn’t and the stories of the boys’ shenanigans just elongates the narrative without getting to anything. Lifted lacks a satisfying conclusion which is disappointing, but it is redeemed by Gilani’s lovable nature and honest performance.
Lifted is at theSpace@Surgeons Hall until 27th August.