Submission and Sarah, Sky and Seven Other Guys, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A British Pakistani Muslim tries to reconcile his faith and family with his love of men and clubbing.

A gay guy and his straight female bff share a flat, a mutual adoration for classic films and the occasional man.

Liver & Lung Productions’ two new plays, whilst needing further development, look at two issues that queer men of colour face. Submission is the stronger of the two works, though Sarah, Sky and Seven Other Guys includes a mix of serious and light-hearted material.

Sameer’s relationship with Daniel is complicated by his unerring dedication to the Muslim religion. His homosexuality is condemned by his holy book and mother, but the solace it brings him never wavers. When he struggles to fit into the gay scene and find a guy that doesn’t scorn his body hair and brown skin, he reflects on his mum and the poetry of the Koran.

But it’s not enough. When things are good between him and Daniel they’re great, but when they are bad they’re racist. Sameer still has to navigate physical expectations and inner conflict, and Daniel has limited patience.

The script doesn’t artificially force a resolution, but it’s non-linear structure doesn’t give much detail to Sameer and Daniel’s relationship. Interspersed with monologues of achingly beautiful poetry – far better than his dialogue scenes – there’s a sense that Sameer is running away from his problems rather than trying to solve them.

Sky and Sarah do the same thing, though. Both characters use sex as a plaster for their own insecurities, but don’t properly address them. Though they’re good at identifying each other’s shortcomings, there’s not much change. The narrative arc suffers.

There are some very funny moments, and the seven shags they take turns to have work in stereotypes as well as social commentary. In particular, the posh, public school graduate draws attention to racial discrimination and social class disparity in the gay community.

This play has a slightly clearer ending than Submission, though it doesn’t have the same degree of focus. Going more for laughs, it follows a sitcom structure that’s a disservice to the script’s primary relationship and the issues it touches on.

Submission‘s poetry and it’s more thorough investigation into this difficult subset of the gay community gives it a more complete feel, though a fuller picture is needed to really nail Sameer’s struggle. Sky and Sarah float more on the surface, so a bigger overhaul is needed to give the story more substance whilst still serving its comedic aims. But both show promise, and both are important stories that deserve to be told.

Submission runs through 28 August.
Sarah, Sky and Seven Other Guys runs through 28 August.

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