The collision of unrelated, unconnected happenings frequently occurs in everyday life, for no other reason than chance. Lifting the Mask explores such a situation, when two simultaneous stories are brought together by one devastating event. Cameron Forbes’ astounding piece of theatre poignantly exposes many contemporary social and political issues. Compassionately approaching the tender subjects of rape, homophobia and terrorism, this thought-provoking play questions our response to issues that surround us.
With many stories and characters compiled into one play, the actors have their work cut out for them, with Chanelle Shea-Calvin and Christopher Walster professionally undertaking, with great versatility, a variety of personas. The play opens with Farid, a young backpacker about to embark on his travels to Africa. Concurrently, in a busy train station in England, Craig - a budding journalist - is interviewing Amy, a working escort, about her profession. The bulk of the narrative primarily centres on these three characters’ perspectives as they divulge their experiences and deepest secrets.
Whilst in Africa, Farid, played by the compelling Rishaad Moudden, encounters the stigma attached to the illegal homosexual community. It is here where Christopher Walster impressively adopts the African character Emmanuel. This reaction to homosexuality is then paralleled with the acceptability of homosexuality in Britain, as Craig recounts his parents’ response when he ‘came out’.
The clever writing of this play combines two separate rape stories, as they relate and reflect one another. It is here that Chanelle Shea-Calvin gives a most noteworthy performance and establishes herself as gifted performer, evocatively portraying the rape of both Amy and Nina with care and emotion.
Direction from Ian Dunn and Iain Davie successfully captures rare comic glimpses in a play with distinctly dark subject matter. The clever use of props gives the performance a Brechtian feel, as they are passed around to signal an onstage character change. The modest set of four chairs and a handful of props was used to great effect by the performers.
If you are looking for a taste of new Scottish writing, then PromisKus Theatre’s world Lifting the Mask will provide you with plenty of entertainment, as well as challenging your perspective on current affairs.