C Royale      V6                     14.20

August 2nd to 28th

Submission, presented by Liver and Lung Productions, takes us into the life of Sameer, a young British Pakistani who faces the gay scene with trepidation, and who has a 23rd birthday after-party with a friend. This results in an earthquake in his life.

In a small studio with no set the two actors here develop a drama of intensity, passion and ideas. Sameer (Shiv Rhaberu) is deeply drawn to the gay scene and to Danial ( here extremely effectively played by understudy Kieran McIntosh). Shiv Rhaberu fully inhabits the role of Sameer and is wholly convincing. Sameer is a devout Muslim who has imbibed deeply much that his mother has said to him about religion and about the Quoran. He and Danial talk about the collapse of the sun and about the Quoranic end of days. The drama is not linear but moves about in time. The language is often richly poetic, but also sharp and precise at moments of conflict. Writer Shafeeq Shahjahan is to be congratulated on a text  which is engrossing and works on many levels.

Sameer is vulnerable and is looking for affection and love. He receives insult, and this has damaging consequences. At one stage, Danial morphs into Jeffrey Dearmar, the infamous gay serial killer, – someone we maybe see enough of in gay drama, but maybe he is meant to exemplify Sameer’s deepest fears, both of other men and of losing religion. The time shifts can seem arbitrary, and it is difficult to be sure how many men “Danial” is meant to represent. Splendid as the text often is, more could be done to guide the viewer through the story.

There is no lack of simulated sex between two hot guys in this show, but best if you are looking beyond that, and wanting to understand Sameer’s conflicted state, his desires and his distress. Go with him, and you will find this play – with just two people in a dark studio – richly revealing.


Tony Challis