Part of the Arab Arts Focus at this year’s Fringe, Asif Khan brings Hassan Abdulrazzak’s one man play, Love, Bombs and Apples to Summerhall. A play in three parts, the first focuses on a Palestinian actor, desperate for sex, and his encounter with a British girl. The second centres around a Pakistani writer on a mission to write the ‘quintessential post 9/11 novel’, and the third looks at a young man in Bradford seeking salvation in the form of an Apple store.
The first story doesn’t always quite hit the mark: some of the comic moments fall flat and often the protagonist is rather unsympathetic. The satirical aspect works well in an effective stab at opportunistic middle class Western travellers with white saviour complexes and this element showcases some of the best writing of the hour. However, tired gags about pretending to listen to women while looking for a suitable seduction spot are lazy and outdated. Nobody in the audience looks impressed.
The second tale definitely shows off Khan’s comic skills to better effect as the effete and ambitious writer whose manuscript is confused for a terrorism manual. The near absurd comedy of this piece is especially well realised, and caricatures the ever-growing paranoia of today’s society.
The third piece, following a young man as he discusses radicalism and capitalism in an Apple story, is also well considered and occasionally poignant. The music, complete with iPhone ringtone chorus, adds a nice edge too.
Throughout all three narratives, Asif Khan performs with energy and commitment, switching from character, accent, culture and opinion with impressive skill. Not every story or joke quite works, but Khan’s ability carries the piece and ultimately lends the audience an insight into some of the problems of Arab and Muslim men, living in different places and in different situations, but all faced with the pressure cooker of the current global political climate.
Words: Chiara Margiotta
Love, Bombs and Apples, Summerhall, Aug 2-27 (not 7, 14, 21), 1.30pm