Liver and Lung Productions have created something extraordinary in Submission, a new play about the conflict between religion and sexuality. A two-hander, this eye-opening story melds physical theatre, spoken word and naturalism in a highly unique and moving way.

This is fascinating, real and astonishing theatre, and I urge everyone to see it this Fringe.

Sameer is a young Muslim Pakistani trying to align his position as ‘a liberal Muslim’ with his queerness. Shiv Rabheru has a nervous energy which is perfect for this role, and his delivery of spoken word monologues inspired by Qur’anic passages is at times breathtaking. If Kieran Mackintosh – who apparently took on the role of Sameer’s love interest last-minute – was at all uncertain in the role, he did not show it. His masculine energy contrasted with Rabheru’s gentility in a horrible but well-played parallel.

Minimal set, a solid lighting design and gorgeous soundscapes make the play what it is. Composer Shafeeq Shajahan, who also wrote and directed this piece in with Hannah Shields, uses the music well to transition us through the nonlinear plot. The transitions themselves are seamless and if the actors ever need to readjust to immediate new circumstances they do not show it. The single major piece of set – a prayer mat – is stark on the small stage in the black box theatre, and it is lovely to behold.

The physical moments are beautifully choreographed, and both sex and prayer movements are used to great effect to reflect the topics of the play. Both actors are talented physical performers and the thrust stage is used well to engage the entire audience. The strength of the play comes, however, in its most intimate moments, when the actors find themselves pushed together at one corner of the stage, or addressing each other from afar.

If you’ve ever struggled with your identity this play will speak to you, especially if you have ever had to deal with reconciling aspects of your faith or sexuality. This is fascinating, real and astonishing theatre, and I urge everyone to see it this Fringe.

Reviews by Elliot Douglas


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The Blurb

Sameer, a young British Pakistani, struggles to reconcile his sexual desires with his Islamic roots and values. On his 23rd birthday, Sameer hosts an unprecedented after-party with friends. A series of unwelcome events unfold, triggering an unhinged response in Sameer. Not only does he begin to question his faith, he also begins to acknowledge the cruel realities faced by queer people of colour. Torn between his allegiance to Mecca and his desire for temporal modernity, Sameer recites spoken word-cum-Quranic compositions, forcing us to contemplate the importance of integrating age-old philosophy with new-wave ideology.