Tickbox

August 25, 2022 | By More

★★★★☆   Personal story

Summerhall (Venue 26): Tue 16 – Sun 28 Aug 2022
Review by Tom Ralphs

Lubna Kerr’s parents arrived in Glasgow from Pakistan in the 1960s and Tickbox, at Summerhall for the final two weeks of the fringe, tells their and her stories.

This is an updated version of her 2021 Army at the Fringe show. It covers her parents’ early experiences in Glasgow and her own life, from the daughter of immigrants to an NHS pharmacist and then an actor and writer.

Lubna Kerr in Tickbox. Pic: David Ho.

The play opens with Kerr hanging out washing as the words of her mother are heard. The message from her mother is to tick her own boxes in life rather than to be a box ticked by someone else, and this is something that echoes throughout the show.

Kerr switches between narrating and commenting on her and her parents lives and acting out episodes and conversations in the voice of her mother, a teacher and a range of other characters from her life.

Her delivery is slow and patient, she gradually draws audiences into her world rather than dropping them in without any map or directions to understand the landscape.

warm humour

There is a warm humour as she talks about moving from a large house in Pakistan to the top floor of a tenement shared with other households in Govan, and the surprise at finding out that the British still considered inside toilets to be a luxury at the time.

The wider cultural landscape of Glasgow is also covered as she talks about how incongruous it was to be Pakistani Muslims living in a White Catholic community before noting that it could have been worse, she could have been a Protestant.

Lubna Kerr in Tickbox. Pic: David Ho

At the same time, there is also an awareness of the casual racism her family faced. While it is underplayed for most of the hour it is always lurking in the background before coming out to devastating effect as she links it to her father’s early death, noting that he went from being a man known as Professor in Pakistan to someone called by a different name in Scotland and dealing with the stresses he and others faced as a result of this and more.

intimacy

While some of the early flashback scenes break the flow of the narrative and lose the story telling feel of the show a little, under Johnny McKnight’s direction they soon become a full part of it making this a multi-character monologue where you get to know more people than Kerr alone.

The intimacy of the script and Kerr’s delivery is slightly lost on the vast stage at TechCube and the gaping space between where the stage ends and the seating begins doesn’t help matters either, but Kerr works hard to overcome these.

Tickbox is a gentle show that has some powerful messages woven into it. Kerr’s delivery of her own script shows a thoughtful approach to how to bring the stories of her and her parents to life.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Summerhall (TechCube 0), 1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL (Venue 26)
Tuesday 16 to Sunday 28 August 2022
Evenings (not Mon 22): 20.45.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Facebook: @lubna.kerr
Twitter: @LubnaKerr
Instagram: @LubnaKerr

Lubna Kerr in Tickbox. Pic: David Ho.

ENDS

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